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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 23, June 3, 2023

Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 Undermines PESA Act 1996 | Statement by Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

Friday 2 June 2023


Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

Press Statement

Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 Undermines PESA Act 1996, FRA 2006, Forest Conservation Act 1980, LARR 2013 and National Forest Policy 1988…

New Delhi


Bhumi Adhikar Andolan first appreciates the Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) for inviting public in general and NGOs/ experts/ stakeholders/ Institutions in particular to give comments/ suggestions on the proposed Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023.

Given the stipulated time, Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan has submitted its comments and suggestions on the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 and it expresses its serious concerns on the proposed amendment bill. More than 150 Sangathans/ movements across India express its anguishes on the proposed amendments that pause serious implications on the Constitutional provisions which recognize and secure the rights of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers. It is clearly observed that amendments undermine PESA Act 1996, Forest Conservation Act 1980, LARR 2013, National Forest Policy 1988 and FRA 2006.

Vijoo Krishnan (AIKS) expressed his major concerns on the very definition of Forest. Violating the recognized and vested rights of STs and OTFDs under Sections 4(1), 3 and 5 of FRA, the proposed amendment Section 1A (1) proposes to exempt such lands from FCA changing its status from forest use to use for non-forest purposes. New amendment clause 4 Section 1A narrows down the definition of Forest and Forest Land contradicting the Supreme Court judgement dated 12th December, 1996 (T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India and others) that expands the definition of Forest.

The insertion of Section 1A (2) corporatizes and exempts certain categories of land from the purview of FCA 1980: (a) such forest land situated alongside a rail line or a public road maintained by the Government, which provides access to a habitation, or to a rail, and roadside amenity up to a maximum size of 0.10 hectare in each case; (b) such tree, tree plantation or reafforestation raised on lands that are not specified in clause (a) or clause (b) of sub-section (1); and (c) such forest land,—(i) as is situated within a distance of one hundred kilometres along international borders or Line of Control or Line of Actual Control, as the case may be, proposed to be used for construction of strategic linear project of national importance and concerning national security; or (ii) up to ten hectares, proposed to be used for construction of security related infrastructure; or (iii) as is proposed to be used for construction of defence related project or a camp for paramilitary forces or public utility projects, as may be specified by the Central Government, the extent of which does not exceed five hectares in a Left Wing Extremism affected area as may be notified by the Central Government. Further, the amendment of Section 2 inserts a new sub-section 2 which exempts from FCA any survey, such as reconnaissance, prospecting, investigation, or exploration including seismic survey, by saying that such survey shall not be treated as non-forest purpose.

All these exemptions violate FRA nullifying the power of Gram Sabha that governs over all forest land and requires the consent of Gram Sabha before diverting forest land. Roma Malik AIUFWP addressed the media stating, “The present Union Government eases the diversions of forest and forest land to private agencies for linear projects, mineral prospecting, grant of mining leases, creation of land banks, and granting "in principle" Stage I clearance disregarding FRA in its totality.”Corporatization and exemption categories of land from the purview of FCA 1980 with the insertion of Section 1A (2) will lead to massive deforestation and degradation of environment, disturbance in biodiversity and livelihood of forest dependent communities. The proposed amendments are pro corporates, pro industrialists, pro privatisation and pro bureaucratic control, clearly shift the democratic governance of forests from Gram Sabhas.

Therefore, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) demands that the proposed Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 be immediately withdrawn or revisited and the Act be made in compliant with the provisions of FRA to ensure a stronger legal mechanism conceding the primary authority of Gram Sabha to conserve, protect and to comply with the fulfilment of the legal mandate of ensuring forest rights vested on the decision making of Gram Sabhas prior to any diversion of forest land.* *BAA observing the malafide intentions of the present government undermining and diluting the rights of Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers through the proposed amendments bill in FCA Vikram Singh (AIAWU) condemning the intentions of the government and feared that the government may no doubt will bring back the draconian and colonial law of the past, “Indian Forest Act, 1927”

Prem Singh Gehlawat, All India Kisan Mahasabha expressed his anguish on the malafide intentions of the present government that is well defined as it paves way to Land grabbing for Corporates. Citing the examples from removing Article 370 from J&K; Widening of National Highways in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states.

Hannan Mollah on behalf of BAA called for observing “Black Day” on 30 June 2023 with a Nation-Wide Demonstration at block and district level to strengthen demands for Land Rights.

Vijoo Krishnan (AIKS), Hannan Mollah (AIKS), Roma Malik (AIUFWP), Prem Singh Gehlawat (AIKM), Vikram Singh (AIAWU) and other representatives of BAA were present at the press Conference.


Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Chhattisgarh BachaoAndolan, Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Adivasi Aikya Vedike, Adivasi Ekta Parishad, Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, All India Kisan Sabha (Canning Lane), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajay Bhavan), All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, All India Kisan Mahasabha, All India Agriculture Workers Union, All India Union of Forest Working People, Bharat Jan Andolan, Bhartiya Kisan Union Arajnitik Asli, Bundelkhand Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch, Delhi Solidarity Group, Gujarat Khedut Samaj, Himdhara Collective, Jan Ekta Jan AdhikarAndolan, Jan Sangharsh Samanyvay Samiti, Janmukti Vahini, JindabadSangathan, KashtakariSangathan, Kisan Manch, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Lok Mukti Sangathan, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Mines Minerals and People, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Sanyukt Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Sarv Adivasi Sangathan, Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Shoshit Jan Andolan, Adhikar Manch, Kaimoor Mukti Morcha, BJSA, JanmatuSangthan, Jharkhand BachaoAndolan, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Jan Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti, INSAF, Kisan Manch, Adivasi Ekata Parishad and others.
For more details contact bhumiadhikarandolan[at] or call at 9954529368

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