Uttarakhand to urge Centre to phase out stringent forest laws
The Uttarakhand government will urge the Centre to make its forest laws less stringent so that it becomes easier for the locals to earn their forest-based livelihood, which would also prompt them to voluntarily conserve the green coverUpdated: Apr 04, 2017, 19:08 IST
The Uttarakhand government will urge the Centre to make its forest laws less stringent so that it becomes easier for the locals to earn their forest-based livelihood, which would also prompt them to voluntarily conserve the green cover.
“We will soon put up a proposal before the central government to phase out, or, make less stringent all its harsh forest laws so that the forest-dependent people in this state face no difficulty in earning their livelihood,” state forest and wildlife minister Harak Singh Rawat told HT on Tuesday.
He said the stringent forest rules enacted by the Centre, such as the Forest (Conservation) Act, had proved to be a bane for the locals. “Such harsh laws have literally robbed people of their traditional rights over forests, which has driven them to desperation” Rawat said. “As a result, they have turned apathetic towards forests which they once willingly conserved.”
Rawat hoped that the Centre would pay heed to the state government’s request. “I am confident about that because Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly spoken about the need to phase out all obsolete laws.”
The minister said the state government has also plans to replace obsolete forest laws with people-friendly rules.
Rawat said that the state government would urge the Centre to restore the traditional legal rights the panchayats had over forests decades ago. “We will urge them (Centre) to introduce such a provision like this in the panchayat laws so that the rights and concessions over forests the communities had once enjoyed are restored.”
Such rights and concessions had developed a sense of ownership for forests. “There was a time when all families in rural areas were allowed to fell at least three trees each so that they could use the timber to build their houses,” Rawat said. “No wonder the people would zealously guard the forests.” They would rush to douse fires once they broke out in forests.
“The people have now turned indifferent to forest fires,” he said. “This sense of alienation set in after 1980 when the Centre enforced a stringent forest law like the Forest (Conservation) Act.”