Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev addressing the
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram Karyakari Mandal meeting in Haridwar
Haridwar: The Kendriya Karyakari Mandal (KKM) of Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram has demanded immediate withdrawal of the draft prepared for amendment in the Indian Forest Act. In a resolution passed at the meeting held at Patanjali Yogapeeth from September 20 to 22, the Karyakari Mandal demanded preparation of a new draft with the involvement of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, elected representatives of Janjatis, reputed voluntary organisations working among the tribals and other stakeholders. The KKM called upon the Janjatis, especially their elected representatives, heads of traditional institutions, youth and all the nationalist organisations working among them and the workers of Kalyan Ashram to generate awareness on this matter. The KKM also urged the state governments, including the Government of Telangana, not to go ahead with enacting such a regressive Act in their states which infringes on legitimate interests of the Janjatis and results into unrest in Janjati areas. Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat were also present.
The meeting sought pertinent importance to the landmark legislation of removing historic injustice to the Janjatis; the FRA-2006, the PESA Act in order to provide self and good governance to the Scheduled Areas and the Bio-diversity Act, while framing the new NFP and amending the IFA. “Janjatis and the forest dwellers are treasures of traditional knowledge of forests development and environment protection, which should be fully used making them partners in this task. If we march ahead winning their trust, they would be developed and the nation too in a healthy environment. This development will be sustainable. Mendhalekha and Baripada (Maharashtra), Shiv Ganga, Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) and Jardhargaon (Uttarakhand) have recorded successful examples of conserving and developing forests; Bishnoi Community in Jaisalmer and Barmer in Rajasthan has successfully protected Khejri trees and deers in all odds; Khonoma & Luhazpuh in Nagaland are glaring examples of protection of wildlife by communities even today, the resolution added.
The Central Government constituted TSR Subramaniam Committee to suggest amendments to the IFA in 2015. Later, on July 23, 2016, another Committee was constituted comprising of some MoEF officers, few PCCFs of some of the states and two advocates. None of these committees had any representation of the Tribal Affairs Ministry, Janjatis or the traditional forest dwellers. There can be no objection to policies for development as well as increase in green cover, environment protection; forest produces and forest-based raw material for industries are made available in the country in order to reduce its imports and thereby saving foreign currency and development of the country. However, there are so many provisions in this draft, which violate legitimate rights of the Janjatis. These provisions are not only injustices to the Janjatis but also no civil society or democratic state can ever give such absolute powers to its civil, police or forest administration.
“The entire country along with the Janjatis has lots of hopes from the present central government. But this draft proposal not only washes it out but also results in branding the image of the Central Government as anti-Janjatis. There is an apprehension that the Central Government is being kept into dark in the name of national interests. It looks like a clear attempt on the part of the foresters to reestablish their absolute authority over forests. The Central Government and the society should understand role of the forests, environment and the wildlife lobby and its nexus with the forest-bureaucracy, which was active behind the curtain in the recent order of the apex court for evicting the forestland whose claims have been rejected was established. Some institutions like Wildlife Trust of India have disassociated themselves from such attempts. Other people should also introspect considering greater and common-mutual interests of the Janjatis, forests, environment and the wildlife, the resolution added. n