Newmai News Network
Aizawl | August 13
Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on August 13 termed the proposed Indian Forest Bill (to be amended the Indian Forest Act or IFA, 1927) as ‘unsafe’ for a small state like Mizoram.
A statement issued by media cell of the Congress party said that the draft Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will infringe on the rights of the common people and special status granted to Mizoram under the provision of Article 371-G of the Constitution.
Among others, Article 371-G states that no act of Parliament can be made as regard to ownership and transfer of land in Mizoram without the consent of the state legislature.
The Congress party said that the proposed bill will have far-reaching implications "as not only it has the provision to override other Forest laws and displace forest community, but it will also dilute the authority of village council".
The party also said that the proposed amendment seeks to further consolidate forest officers and the Forest departments’ power over forests, which in turn will infringe on the right of the people and affect the livelihood of the farmers, who heavily depend on forest products.
The Congress party therefore, asked the state government headed by Zoramthanga to convene a consultative meeting on the draft (amendment) bill involving all stake holders of the state as directed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
It further appealed to the state government to take measures to ensure that changes and improvement are made on sections of the draft bill which are harmful for the state.
Earlier this month, the Zo Indigenous Forum (ZIF), an organisation fighting for the rights of the indigenous Mizos, submitted a memorandum to the UN, blaming the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2019 as anti-indigenous and is against the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.
The memorandum also stated that the proposed amendment bill contravenes Article 371-G of the Constitution and will undermine the powers and functions of Autonomous District Councils under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The group also alleged that the propose amendment bill will infringe on the rights of the indigenous people, who heavy depend on forest products and it also violates Article 8, 25, 26 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).