Central taskforce formed to ensure ‘synergy' between Forest Act, forest & agro-forest regulations, promote sustainability

| | New Delhi
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Central taskforce formed to ensure ‘synergy' between Forest Act, forest & agro-forest regulations, promote sustainability

Sunday, 03 April 2022 | PTI | New Delhi

A central task force to ensure “synergy” between the National Forest Policy, Forest (Conservation) Act and National Agro-Forest Policy aiming to promote sustainable development has been set up with an aim to develop “synergies” between the three legislations and promote sustainability.

"It has been decided to constitute a Task Force under the chairmanship of Director General Forests and Special Secretary to study and analyse the National Forest Policy, 1988, the proposed National Forest Policy, proposed amendments in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the current regulatory regimes on agro-forestry/tree outside forests across the country, in order to make recommendations to develop synergies for promotion of sustainable development and management of forests and trees outside forests in the country," said the Union Environment Ministry in an Office Memorandum issued recently.

The National Forest Policy 1988 is presently in a draft shape, unveiled by the Union Environment Ministry in 2018. The final version is yet to be made public.

Nearly three and a half years ago, in June 2016, the Environment Ministry had unveiled a draft NFP but when following flak from activists for not being enough to protect the then-existing forest regulations, the Ministry had backtracked on it, calling it just a “study”. In 2018, the Center officially unveiled the draft of the NFP. The draft was then revised in 2019 as well but since then there has been no development in the matter.

The task force is expected to give its observation in the draft NFP further.

The Environment Ministry which released a consultation paper October 2, 2021 on the proposed amendments in Forest Conservation Act, 1980 with reference to the amendments made in 1988 in this Act is already drawing flak for the gaps in the proposed legislation.

A report published in the Centre for Science and Environment termed the proposed amendments “a very conscious larceny (theft of personal property) of village resources.”

“The Narendra Modi-led Union government is making every effort towards providing ‘ease of doing business’ to its cronies. This latest move needs to be seen in the same context. It is effectively reiterating through these proposed amendments that this step is aimed at providing exemptions to businesses in the garb of ‘development’,” it said.

The task force, with a tenure of two months, will submit its report in 60 days. If needed, it can co-opt any member, the memorandum noted.

Most of the proposed members of the 19-member task force are either directly or indirectly part of the Ministry with only three from outside this circle

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