[op-ed snap] Anti-forest, anti-forest dweller


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CAF, FRA, etc.

Mains level: Issues related to the CAF and the CAF Act, 2016.


Collection in the Central compensatory afforestation fund (CAF)

  1. Ministry of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Mahesh Sharma informed Parliament that his Ministry has collected over Rs. 50,000 crore in a CAF
  2. This money is to be used though the CAF Act, 2016 or CAF, a purported mechanism to offset forest loss
  3. Before issuing forest clearances to a mine, dam or industry, the Ministry fixes a monetary value for the forest that is to be destroyed and collects this as “compensation”
  4. The funds are to be then used to “afforest” alternative land

Issues with the CAF

  1. The fund’s growth over the past decade is a measure of the forest destruction under way in India
  2. The CAF Act is a deeply flawed piece of legislation because it reduces their displacement, hardship and loss of livelihood and food sources to a monetary value — to be paid to the state
  3. The law, and now its draft rules, spells further capture of Adivasi lands in the name of compensatory afforestation

The CAF Act, 2016 : Not an effective safeguard

  1. The Forest Rights Act (FRA) was enacted in 2006 to provide forest-dependent communities with resource rights via individual and community forest land titles
  2. The act formally established the authority of the gram sabha in forest stewardship
  3. A decade on, the FRA remains grossly under-implemented, and its vision of devolving power to rural communities delayed
    CAF Act, 2016
  4. The rules(in the act) provide no meaningful safeguards against the forest bureaucracy implementing compensatory plantations on dense forests
  5. It gives unchecked powers to bureaucracy to undertake plantations on private and common property resources
  6. The rules provide for mere “consultation” with communities in the planning of compensatory afforestation:
    a clear step backward from the consent provisions in the FRA and the 2014 Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act

Opposition of the CAF bill

  1. Since the CAF Bill was floated, forest rights advocates report that over 2,500 gram sabhas across India have opposed it
  2. But resource rights movements by Adivasi and forest-dwelling communities are marginal in our public discourse, except during momentous events like the recent Nashik-Mumbai march
  3. The government’s ongoing policies do not address such demands for justice and dignity


Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill: Significance & Challenges

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