On November 15 Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said that the draft of the Indian Forest Act, 1929 amendment was being withdrawn. This is a BIG victory for activists and environmental groups (including us), who had protested against the proposed amendment and asked for its scrapping!
Here’s a little bit of context – The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was put in place by British rulers so they could exert autonomy over India’s forests. Earlier this year, our Union government proposed an overhaul of this colonial-era law. While this was a welcome move, the amendments they proposed were very worrying.
The Indian Forest Act, 2019 would give forest officials the power to shoot people, search and seize property and arrest people on mere suspicion of committing a crime. It would also reduce and restrict tribals’ and forest dwellers’ access to forest produce, relocate people against their will, hand over forests to private companies for afforestation and diminish the role of gram sabhas by letting forest officials have the last say.
We ran a campaign on this, and also facilitated a platform for emails (containing objections) that members could send to the Environment Ministry against the new law. Over 6,000 people took action and along with efforts on by other organisations and individual activists, the government took note!
Tribals and indigenous communities that have been living in, and taking care of our forests are its true protectors. The scrapping of the draft amendment is the biggest victory for them. Here’s to people power! ✊