NEW DELHI: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said the NDA Government would amend the Forest Rights Act, if needed, to do away with the mandatory consent required from tribal Gram Sabhas before transferring their forest land for industrial purposes.
“Tribals have every right of development and we cannot make them an anthropology extinct showpiece,” the minister said.
The discussions are already under way for the dilution of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act (Recognition of Forest Rights Act) enacted by the erstwhile UPA Government in 2006 and made effective from 2008. Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Javadekar had written to Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram over the need to amend the Act.
Asked about move to do away with the 2009 notification according to which consent of Gram Sabhas is mandatory of transfer forest for non-forest purposes, Javadekar said, “What has been the experience in last five years (since 2009) has to be seen and considered.”
On the steps taken by the government to dilute the FRA, the minister said, “It is about expansion of existing coal mines. That is a different ball game altogether. We are depriving tribals of their right to work, right to prosper, right to develop, right to engage and right to development and we need to be progressive.”