GUWAHATI: The Mizoram government has rejected the Centre’s proposed amendment to Indian Forests Act, 1927, on the ground that it violates the special provisions guaranteed to the state under Article 371G of the Constitution.
Civil societies, NGOs and autonomous district councils are up against the proposals. They sat together with political parties and senior officials of the state’s forest department at a consultative meeting held on Thursday.
After examining the various sections in the proposed amendments, they agreed unanimously that the Act’s tweak will directly encroach upon the special provisions given to the state under Article 371G of the Constitution.
“We all met yesterday and after examining the various facets, we felt it goes against the provisions that the state enjoys. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected,” Mizoram’s Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, TJ Lalnuntluanga, said.
Senior officials in the department too believe that the proposals will be against the interests of the locals.
“We have no doubt that the proposals will be against the Mizos’ customary rights, laws and practices. They will also be against ownership and transfer of land besides powers vested on the autonomous district councils,” an official said.
Mizoram does not come under the purview of Indian Forests Act of 1927. The Mizoram Forest Act of 1955 governs the state’s forests in line with customary laws. The same goes to most states in the Northeast where issues related to land are dealt with in accordance with customary laws.
On March 14 last, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had invited feedback on the proposed amendment from the states.
In August, a group in Mizoram, called Zo Indigenous Forum, had petitioned the UN alleging that the Indian Forests (Amendment) Bill, 2019, would be against the indigenous people and their rights as guaranteed in the Constitution.