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Govt Policies & Interventions

iasparliament
April 05, 2018
4 months
357
1

Discuss the loopholes in the draft Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Rules – a mechanism envisaged to offset forest losses. (200 words)

Refer – The Hindu      

Enrich the answer from other sources, if the question demands.

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IAS Parliament 3 months

KEY POINTS

·        The Union Government recently notified the draft Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Rules, 2018 to facilitate utilisation of over Rs.50,000 crore among states to expand India’s forest cover.

·        However, environmentalists and forest rights activists criticized the draft rules stating they violate the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.

Loopholes in the draft rules

·        FRA Act mandates that Gram Sabhas (village councils) have both the right and the power to protect, manage and conserve their forests.

·        On the contrary, the draft rules violate FRA and have allowed for illegal plantations in community lands.

·        The definition of Gram Sabha has been diluted in the draft rules.

·        The draft rules states that compensatory Afforestation work can be carried out in consultation with a gram Sabha or Van Sanrakshan Samiti (VSS).

·        But, VSS is not a legal body and cannot be equated with Gram Sabha.

·        This is clearly a strategy to bypass Gram Sabha and engage with VSSs which don’t have any legal standing.

·        The draft rules placed this huge fund (CAF) at the unilateral disposal of the forest bureaucracy, giving it unchecked powers to undertake plantations on private and common property resources.

·        The proposed rules don’t have provision for getting consent of the Gram Sabhas (only mention consultation) and provision for transferring funds to the Gram Sabha.

·        It is a clear step backward from the consent provisions in the FRA and the 2014 Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.

·        This will result in further atrocities and crimes against tribals and forest dwellers.

·        Consultations are not stipulated for all Afforestation projects, and need not even involve the affected Gram Sabhas.

·        This indicates a wilful blindness to conflicts under way across forested landscapes.

·        The draft says absolutely nothing about how consultation should be done, and what happens if local communities refuse their consent.

·        The rules provide no meaningful safeguards against the forest bureaucracy implementing compensatory plantations on dense forests, and where FRA claims have been issued, are pending or have to be filed. 

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