ST Commission holds its ground on impact of new rules on Forest Rights Act

Source: The post is based on the article “ST Commission holds its ground on impact of new rules on Forest Rights Act” published in The Hindu on 3rd January 2023

What is the News?

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes(NCST) Chairman has said that the new Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 are violative of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

What are the new Forest (Conservation) Rules,2022?

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Why has the NCST chairman called new Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 violative of Forest Rights Act, 2006?

NCST Chairman has said that the new FCR, 2022 has done away with the clause to mandatorily seek consent of the gram sabhas before the Stage 1 clearance or even after Stage 2 clearance for diversion of forest land.

In such a scenario, project proponents, having received partial clearance will be pushing the State governments and Union Territory administrations for “diversion at the earliest”. This would seriously impact the process of recognition of rights under the FRA.

What was the government’s response to the NCST objection?

The Union Environment Minister has argued that the new Forest Conservation rules specifies that states will release the order for diversion of forest land after it is satisfied that all provisions under the Forest Rights Act(FRA) have been complied with.

However, NCST pointed out that between 2009 and 2018, of the 128 applications for forest diversion for mining, 74 were cleared at the Stage 2 and 46 at the Stage 1 and none of the rejections were based on FRA non-compliance. Hence, the new rules will only increase such violations.

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