Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday accused the state governments of deliberately violating the Forest Rights Act by not notifying critical wildlife habitats under it.
The Act stipulates that each government notify critical wildlife areas before settling the land rights of tribals. Once notified, ownership of a habitat can’t be given to tribals and new projects can’t come up in the area.
But two years after the implementation of the Act (in January 2008), most states have failed to notify critical areas and instead permitted projects. “It is intentional,” said Ramesh.
Many such habitats are home to illegal mining. A team from the National Board on Wildlife on Thursday told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh illegal mining was creating a grave danger to wildlife in these areas.
“In Tadoba reserve (Maharashtra), 40 coal and power projects have been sanctioned and only one rejected. Their impact on the rich bio-diversity is showing,” said Ramesh. He added that the PM had told the delegation he’d speak with the CMs.