Green activists have sought to set up a state-level committee comprising people from all sections of society, including politicians, so that the Forest Rights Act could be implemented with strong political will.
A state-level committee should be formed for fair implementation of the Forest Rights Act, said Guman Singh, national coordinator of the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, an NGO working in the field of environment, while addressing mediapersons here on Saturday.
“The committee will monitor the process of fair implementation and gear up the process with political will,” said Singh.
Lauding the government's decision of organising gram sabhas at village level and to constitute forest rights committee (FRC), he said the government had initiated positively towards implementation of the Forest Rights Act, but people should be aware of this act and its benefits first.
“A campaign should be launched to conduct special gram sabhas for a month and the formation of FRC should be ensured according to the law,” he said.
He said the state forest department had filed 132 encroachment cases under the Himachal Pradesh Public Premises Act, 1971, in tribal Kinnaur district, against these forest dwellers, who had filed forest rights claim for land right under FRA in 2008.
“The forest department has even started eviction process in different parts of the state under the Himachal Pradesh Public Premises Act, 1971,” said Singh, adding that it was violation of FRA.
According to the law, forest dwellers could not be evicted till the finalisation of forest rights claims. “The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan will visit 400 gram sabhas of the state to educate people about forest rights,” he said.
Meanwhile, green activist Rattan Chand said the process of filing forest complaints was initiated in 2008 and 5,692 individual and 54 community rights claims were filed in Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Pangi-Bharmour. Of the total, 346 individual right claims were settled and the rest were pending.
To move green tribunal
The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan is likely to move the green tribunal seeking suspension of Luhri hydro project, which is under Satluj Jal Vidhyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL), a public sector hydropower company.
National coordinator Guman Singh said, “Experiences from Nathpa Jhakri (1,500MW), Karcham Wangtoo (1,000 MW) and Rampur (412 MW) and other big projects on the Sutlej river basin are enough evidence for the argument that the impact of the tunneling are disastrous and unavoidable even with the best technology deployed.”
The Luhri project has the potential to generate 2,244 million units in a 90% dependable year. The MoU for execution of the Luhri project was signed with the state on October 27, 2008.