From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Forest Conservation Rules 2022
Mains level : Forest rights issues of tribals
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has asked the Centre to put the new Forest Conservation Rules, 2022, on hold.
What are the Forest Conservation Rules?
- The Forest Conservation Rules deal with the implementation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.
- They prescribe the procedure to be followed for forest land to be diverted for non-forestry uses such as road construction, highway development, railway lines, and mining.
- The broad aims of the FCA are:
- To protect forest and wildlife
- Put brakes on State governments’ attempts to hive off forest land for commercial projects and
- Striving to increase the area under forests
How does it work?
- For forest land beyond five hectares, approval for diverting land must be given by the Central government.
- This is via a specially constituted committee, called the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC).
- The FAC approval also means that the future users of the land must provide compensatory land for afforestation as well as pay the net present value (ranging between ₹10-15 lakh per hectare.)
What do the updated rules say?
- The new rules aims to streamline the process of approvals.
- The rules make a provision for private parties to cultivate plantations and sell them as land to companies who need to meet compensatory forestation targets.
- This aims to help increase forest cover as well as solve the problems of the States of not finding land within their jurisdiction for compensatory purposes.
Why in news now?
- The point of contention flagged by NCST is- the new rules has no word for what happens to tribals and forest-dwelling communities whose land would be hived off for developmental work.
- Prior to the updated rules, state bodies would forward documents to the FAC that would also include information on the status of whether the forest rights of locals in the area were settled.
Back2Basics: National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is an Indian constitutional body that was established through Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
- It functions under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- The original constitution provided for the appointment of a Special Officer under Article 338.
- The special officer was designated as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- The 65th Constitutional Amendment Act 1990, amended Article 338 of the Constitution to introduce a joint NC for SCs and STs.
- Later by 89th Amendment, NC for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and NC for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) were separated by creating a new Article 338-A.
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