New Delhi, Jan. 21 — In a letter to Union MInister for Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram, senior Congress Party leader Ahmed Patel has criticised the Centre for allowing the Government of Maharashtra to exercise absolute control over forest management and the sale of forest produce.
Referring to the Forest Rights Act, 2006, Patel described this development as illegal and a total dilution of a law passed by Parliament in 2006.
He said the Act clearly mentions that tribal communities (Adivasis) living on the margins of the nation’s forested areas, are its true custodians.
“The legislation was intended to provide legally enforceable commercial rights to our Adivasi people, who have withstood a long history of replete with exploitation and discrimination.The irony is that the tribal villages of Maharashtra were the first to benefit due to the enactment of the Forest Rights Act. The legislation struck down an age-old nexus between the forest department and private contractors and allowed the villagers to directly benefit from the sale of forest trade and produce,” said Patel in his letter to Oram.
The Congress leader said that the apparent reversal of the Forest Rights Act viz-a-vis the Government of Maharashtra is most unfortunate, at least in terms of interpretation of the triabl ministry’s order, as it puts the lives and livelihood of Adivasis and their future at risk.
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