?New law will usher in sustainable forest mgmt? | india | Hindustan Times
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?New law will usher in sustainable forest mgmt?

LAMENTING THE fact that forest dwellers and tribals dependant on forests for livelihood had been subjected to grave inequalities and oppression over the ages, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Namonarayan Meena has asserted the new ?Forest Bill?, that is on the anvil, would pave the way for effective sustainable forest management in the country.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 13:18 IST

LAMENTING THE fact that forest dwellers and tribals dependant on forests for livelihood had been subjected to grave inequalities and oppression over the ages, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Namonarayan Meena has asserted the new ‘Forest Bill’, that is on the anvil, would pave the way for effective sustainable forest management in the country.

“The bill envisages granting not only land rights but also rights on minor forest produce and other forest-related activities to the tribals and forest dwellers,” Meena told the Hindustan Times here today. The minister was in town to inaugurate a workshop on sustainable forest management at the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM).

“The (Union) Cabinet has already approved the bill and it has been sent to Parliament for passage and is expected to be enforced in the next session (of Parliament)”, Meena expressed hope. He added the bill would go a long way in settling several issues, especially those related to the injustices being meted out to tribals and communities dependant on forests for earning their livelihood.

On the issue of regularising encroachments on forestland in Madhya Pradesh, Meena emphasised the Centre was looking at the matter in a sympathetic way. 

“Pattas on about 1.18 lakh hectares of forestland had been regularised in 2001 and we would consider the remaining cases in a positive way too,” he maintained.

Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of sustainable forest management programmes in Madhya Pradesh, Meena said the Centre would continue providing necessary support to the State Government. “We would look into all proposals sent by the MP Government in a positive manner and grant the necessary permissions and funds as far as possible,” he emphasised.

The minister added the Centre had already released huge sums for afforestation activities in MP. “We have approved a sum of Rs 112 crore (for MP) and released Rs 68 crore from it,” he informed. These funds are being utilised in afforestation programmes currently going on in 49 of the 63 forest divisions of the State.

Meena pointed out India could fare much better at the global level in forestry programmes and forest produce-related business activities if there were a set of common regulations at the international level. “There is strong need of a unified international law to create a level playing field’’, he stressed.