ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Encroachment on Forests-Government versus People

Encroachment on Forests Government versus People Shared Kulkarni THE Government of India has published a draft of the Forest Bill. The bill is likely to come before Parliament in the coming .session. It is "a bill to consolidate and amend the law relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest-produce, to make special provisions for the regulation of felling and replanting of trees in urban areas and rural areas and sandalwood, and for matters connected therewith". A close look at the bill leads one to see it as an attempt to reduce the age-old rights of the millions of people living in and near the forests over forest-produce to the minimum, to reduce the power of State Governments in respect of forest regulation and to consolidate the Centre's power over a subject vitally connected with poor people's living. The bill is in essence an encroachment over the people's rights on forests. Unfortunately, this encroachment has not received much attention. Shramik Sanghatana, Bhoomisena and Kashtakari Sanghatana, some of the mass organisations working among the adivasis in Maharashtra, have sent some comments of the bill to Members of Parliament. (See EPW, September 5, 1981). But, besides this, no attempt appears to have been made to scrutinise the bill. In view of its impact over the lives of the poor millions in the country, it is necessary to analyse the bill and to initiate a discussion.

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