Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022
Why in news? Conflict between the government and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) over the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, on the new rules being violative of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 .
- Issue over the provision in the new rules that proposes to do away with the consent clause for diversion of forest land for other purposes as reported by NCST
- Environment Ministry has insisted that the rules were framed under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and that the NCST’s apprehension of these rules being in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 “is not legally tenable”
What is the concern over the Clause ?
- FCR, 2022 had done away with the clause to mandatorily seek consent of the gram sabhas before the Stage 1 clearance or even after Stage 2 clearance.
- Project proponents, having received partial clearance, will be pushing the State governments and UT administrations for “diversion at the earliest”, that be “seriously impacting the process of recognition of rights under the FRA
What are Forest Conservation Rules?
- Act to provide for the conservation of forests.
- The act states that state governments cannot pass any order, without prior approval of the central government
- To take away the tag of reserve forest from any forest area
- To permit the usage of forest area for non-forest purposes
- To assign any portion of forest land to non-governmental organisations including corporates
- To clear of the forest land from the naturally grown trees for the purposes of re-afforestaton.
- Act gives the central government the power to constitute an advisory committee to give it recommendations about the approvals or any other matter.
- The Forest Conservation Rules were again enacted in 2003 replacing the 1981 rules, and thereafter too, the rules were amended in 2004, 2014 and 2017.
- The latest Forest Conservation Rules, 2022 replace the 2003 Rules.
Forest Rights Act, 2006.
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006- popularly known as Forest Rights Act (FRA) recognises the rights of forest dwellers and the importance of their participation in the forest management processes
- The act is based more on the principle that the communities are a part of forest ecosystems
- Gram Sabha- empowered to implement crucial provisions of the FRA including the recognition of individual forest rights, protection of the forest ecosystem etc is a committee consisting on village elders with full and unrestricted participation of women.
Forest Conservation Rule, 2003 (FC Rules, 2003)?
- There are two stages of approval prescribed in the Forest Conservation Rules, 2003
|Nodal Officer —> Divisional Forest Officer and the District Collector —>Conservator of Forests —> Nodal Officer—>State Administration —> MoEFC|
- The District Collector require consent from each Gram Sabha for the activity mentioned in the application along with any rehabilitation measures and then pass a report of his findings to the conservator of forests according to this rule.
- ‘Final approval’ : Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India
What changes with the Forest Conservation Rules, 2022(FC Rules, 2022)?
- The FC Rules, 2022 do not require the collector to obtain the consent of Gram Sabhas before the In-principle approval
- Central Government can give its final approval and will, thereafter, leave it to the state government to pass an order for de-reservation or diversion or assignment.
- Act will allow private parties to cultivate plantations and sell them as land to companies to meet compensatory forestation targets.
- Tribals and forest-dwelling communities who lost their land for developmental work finds no mention
- The new rules has defined the word ‘Forest land’. Land belonged to Railways or other ministries and on which forest has come up will no longer be considered forests.
- This act will allow the constructions of the buildings in the forest land up (to an area of 250 sq meters as one-time relaxation).