Centre’s draft rules on compensatory afforestation allow gram sabha consent to be bypassed
Over a year ago, the Union government assured Parliament that village councils of Adivasis and other forest-dwelling communities would be consulted before Forest Departments start plantations on their traditional lands under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016.
The promise was a step down from the requirement of seeking consent from forest dwelling tribals and other communities under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. While the requirement of consent would have given Adivasis and other forest dwellers veto power over any plantation proposals, consultation does not.
Going a step further in that direction, the Union government has now drafted rules for the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act that contain loopholes that will enable forest officials to set up plantations on traditional forests without even this consultation in many of the 1.77 lakh villages across India that have forests.