Mr. Prakash Javdekar, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; State Governments
On November 15, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said that the draft of the Indian Forest Act, 1929 amendment was being withdrawn. He added that the government did not create the draft to amend the law, and there was confusion among people about what the draft was meant for.
This is a BIG victory for activists and environmental groups (including us), who had protested against the proposed amendment and asked for its scraping!
Scrap the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019 and put in place a more inclusive, environmentally sustainable law.
Why is this important?
This is bad news, and needs your urgent intervention!
Earlier this year, our Union government proposed an overhaul of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. This colonial-era law was imposed by the British so they could exert autonomy over India's forests. Replacing this much criticised act is a welcome move. However, the draft law that the government has proposed in its place is worrying.
It has enhanced the policing and quasi-judicial powers that forest officials enjoyed under the original act and gives them some more. For instance, the power to shoot people without any liability. Basically, the forest department can shoot at citizens, search and seize property and arrest people even on mere suspicion of committing a crime.
Doesn't this remind you of something? Yes, this draft law is much like the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA), in that it gives forest officials the same legal protection as soldiers in disturbed areas.
In addition, it will reduce and restrict tribals' and forest dwellers' access to forest produce, relocate people against their will, hand over forests to private companies for afforestation and diminish the role of gram sabhas by letting forest officials have the last say.
The law has currently been shared with state governments for consultations, for them to share their suggestions and recommendations. States Governments must take a united stand against this draconian act, that threatens the livelihoods of marginalised communities.
Together we can put pressure on the Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, and consequently the Union government, to scrap the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019.
Sign this petition now.