The turf war between the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and tribal affairs ministry over Forest Rights Act (FRA), a recurring affair in the UPA government, is likely to continue in the BJP-led NDA government.
After environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said Maoist- affected districts need different development parameters, hinting at the possibility of dilution of FRA, the tribal affairs ministry has said it will strongly oppose any such effort.
“The FRA is the exclusive domain of the tribal affairs ministry, and it cannot be diluted without our concurrence. We will oppose if there is any move in that direction,” a senior official in the tribal affairs ministry told HT.
The official was reacting to assurance given by Javadekar to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh that a new policy was on the anvil for development in the Maoist- affected areas of the country.
“All extremism-affected districts should have separate criteria for development and environment protection,” Javadekar had said after meeting with Singh on Wednesday.
While Javadekar did not specify what the new policy will entail, officials in the tribal affairs ministry believe the MoEF will go for dilution of the FRA.
The Act, that mandates the permission of gram sabhas for any project in the tribal dominated areas, has often been cited by some ministries and industry lobbies for delays in green clearances and were seen as obstacles to investment and growth
The MoEF in February had issued a circular which said projects such as roads, pipelines and canals, and transmission line would not require the consent of the gram sabha. The move was opposed by then tribal affairs minister V Kishor Chandra Deo.
Jual Oram, the tribal affairs minister, after assuming charge on May 27 had told HT that his predecessor V Kishor Chandra Deo was right in opposing the environment ministry’s clearances given to industries in the tribal dominated forest areas.
“I will ensure my ministry has its say whenever diversion of forest land is attempted,” he had said.