Forest Conservation Rules infringe upon land rights of tribes people: ST panel chief

Source: The post is based on the article “Forest Conservation Rules infringe upon land rights of tribes people: ST panel chief” published in The Hindu on 21st October 2022.

What is the News?

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC) to put on hold the Forest Conservation Rules 2022.

What are the Forest Conservation Rules,2022?

Forest Conservation Rules 2022 ​​were issued by the Environment Ministry under the Forest Conservation Act.

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What was NCST’s reaction to the rules?

NCST formed a six-member working group to look into whether the rules violated any provisions in the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and if they infringed upon the rights of tribal people, according to officials.

Based on the conclusion of the working group, NCST has asked the Ministry of Environment to put on hold the Forest Conservation Rules 2022.

This is because these rules eliminate the requirement of consent of local tribes and forest dwellers for the diversion of forest land for other purposes. This would amount to infringing upon the land rights of tribespeople under the Forest Rights Act.

It has also asked the government to focus on implementing the rules framed in 2017 and put on hold the new rules.

What is the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)?

NCST was set up in 2004 by amending Article 338 and by inserting a new article 338A in the Constitution through the 89th Constitution Amendment Act, 2003. 

Objective: To oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to STs under the Constitution or under any other law for time being in force or under any other order to the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.

Composition: It consists of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and 3 other Members who are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. At least one member should be a woman.

Term: The Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson and the other Members hold office for a term of 3 years. The members are not eligible for appointment for more than two terms.

Status: The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister, the Vice Chairperson has the rank of a Minister of State and other Members have the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

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