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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

RSS affiliates want Centre to rethink stand on forest act, disinvestment, trade

Less than a month after BJP-led NDA government was sworn in for a second consecutive term, offshoots of the RSS are pressing for a rethink on the government’s disinvestment and trade policies, and on proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2019 08:01 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A delegation of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram met the Union minister for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar on Saturday with a raft of complaints.
A delegation of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram met the Union minister for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar on Saturday with a raft of complaints.(P file photo)
         

Less than a month after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government was sworn in for a second consecutive term, offshoots of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are pressing for a rethink on the government’s disinvestment and trade policies, and on proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

A delegation of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram met the Union minister for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar on Saturday with a raft of complaints — principal among them that tribal communities do not fully understand the draft of amendments proposed to Indian Forest Act, 1927 as it was circulated in English, and the National Forest Policy, which is pending since 2017, should be resolved and notified before forest act is amended.

“Any attempt to amend IFA before that will not be accepted by the nation as it will be against set practices for such legislative work and long vision,” VKA’s joint general secretary, Vishnu Kant, and central representative in Delhi, Suresh Kulkarni said in a representation to Javadekar.

VKA also said the time allotted for feedback on the draft of the amendments — March 7 to June 8 — was not enough in an election year. “This process could start only after June 8 as the period consultation passed in general elections. Now states are trying to complete this process within June (20 days), for which they were three months,” the letter addressed to the minister said.

The body has, however, steered clear of commenting on the proposed amendments, which became controversial because they call for counting commercial plantations as forests and the amendment that allows state governments after consultation with the central government, to relocate those persons from a forest land where it feels that the rights under FRA will hamper conservation efforts.

When contacted, an official of the ministry of environments and forests (MoEF) said: “We have only asked for views of state governments, so (sending the draft in) English is fine. More time can be given if needed.”

Another demand for a policy rethink has come from the labour offshoot BMS. After Niti Aayog drew up a list of 92 public sector units for disinvestment this month, BMS retorted by announcing a seven-day “Jagaran Abhiyan” protest to “save” the public sector.

BMS president CK Saji Narayanan said the government, should redefine the role of public and private sector units in economic growth before starting disinvestment. “The government should put out in public domain the reasons why these PSUs have turned loss-making and consult stakeholders involved before taking any steps,” Narayanan told HT on Sunday.

A labour ministry official declined comments, saying disinvestment targets are drawn up by the finance ministry. He, however, said the government offers “extant labour compensation” as laid down by the law in case of disinvestments.

On trade, even as ASEAN leaders in Bangkok reiterated on Sunday their commitment to concluding negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership within this year, SJM has demanded that the government should reconsider being part of the trade agreement.

SJM contends that with current trade deficit reaching its peak, it is difficult for India to offer duty-free access to imports without adversely impacting its production services. Its co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last December, saying that with 74% of goods offered at zero duty, the policy will increase India’s trade deficit and threaten its manufacturing growth potential.

First Published: Jun 24, 2019 06:58 IST

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