Forest (Conservation) Rules 2022
- July 13, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Forest (Conservation) Rules 2022
Context: Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has issued the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022.
- Formation of Committees:
- It constituted an Advisory Committee, a regional empowered committee at each of the integrated regional offices and a screening committee at State/Union Territory (UT) government-level.
- Advisory Committee:
- The role of the Advisory Committee is restricted to advise or recommend with regards to grant of approval under relevant sections in respect of proposals referred to it and any matter connected with the conservation of forests referred to it by the Central government.
- Project Screening Committee:
- The MoEFCC has directed the constitution of a project screening committee in each state/UT for an initial review of proposals involving diversion of forest land.
- The five-member committee will meet at least twice every month and will advise the state governments on projects in a time bound manner.
- Regional Empowered Committees:
- All linear projects(roads, highways, etc), projects involving forest land up to 40 hectares and those that have projected a use of forest land having a canopy density up to 0.7 — irrespective of their extent for the purpose of survey — shall be examined in the Integrated Regional Office.
- Responsibility to states:
- States are given the responsibility of settling forest rights of forest dwellers (Forest Rights Act, 2006) and allowing diversion of forest land.
- Allows compensatory afforestation (CA) in other states:
- If the state already has over two-thirds area under green cover or over one-third area under forest cover, then CA could be taken in other states/UTs where the cover is less than 20%
- The new Forest Conservation Rules do not mention the earlier requirement of attaining a gram sabha NOC before diverting forest land for a project.
- Rule states unequivocally that compliance with the Forest Rights Act is not at all required for the final approval for forest diversion, given by the environment ministry.
- They also allow forest rights to be settled after the final approval for forest clearances has been granted by the Centre.
The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006
- It recognised the rights of the forest dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources, on which these communities were dependent for a variety of needs, including livelihood, habitation and other socio-cultural needs.
- The forest management policies, including the Acts, Rules and Forest Policies of Participatory Forest Management policies in both colonial and post-colonial India, did not, till the enactment of this Act, recognize the symbiotic relationship of the STs with the forests, reflected in their dependence on the forest as well as in their traditional wisdom regarding conservation of the forests.
- To undo the historical injustice occurred to the forest dwelling communities
- To ensure land tenure, livelihood and food security of the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers
To strengthen the conservation regime of the forests by including the responsibilities and authority on Forest Rights holders for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological balance
- The Act encompasses Rights of Self-cultivation and Habitation which are usually regarded as Individual rights; and Community Rights as Grazing, Fishing and access to Water bodies in forests, Habitat Rights for PVTGs, Traditional Seasonal Resource access of Nomadic and Pastoral community, access to biodiversity, community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge, recognition of traditional customary rights and right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource for sustainable use.
The act identify four types of rights:
- Title rights: It gives FDST and OTFD the right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares. Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family and no new lands will be granted.
- Use rights: The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
- Relief and development rights: To rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection
- Forest management rights: It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
- It also provides rights to allocation of forest land for developmental purposes to fulfil basic infrastructural needs of the community. In conjunction with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Settlement Act, 2013 FRA protects the tribal population from eviction without rehabilitation and settlement.
Special, Status of Gram Sabha
- The Act further enjoins upon the Gram Sabha and rights holders the responsibility of conservation and protection of bio-diversity, wildlife, forests, adjoining catchment areas, water sources and other ecologically sensitive areas as well as to stop any destructive practices affecting these resources or cultural and natural heritage of the tribals. The Gram Sabha is also a highly empowered body under the Act, enabling the tribal population to have a decisive say in the determination of local policies and schemes impacting them.
Thus, the Act empowers the forest dwellers to access and use the forest resources in the manner that they were traditionally accustomed, to protect, conserve and manage forests, protect forest dwellers from unlawful evictions and also provides for basic development facilities for the community of forest dwellers to access facilities of education, health, nutrition, infrastructure etc.