July 25, 2016 10:28:42 pm
Rejecting the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill 2016 in its present form, Opposition Congress on Monday said it will move amendments to the Bill to ensure that it recognises the safeguards guaranteed to forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said four parties –JD-U, CPI, CPI-M and DMK — are at present in support of amendments being planned.
The Compensatory Afforestation Bill 2016 has been passed by the Lok Sabha and was listed for passage in Rajya Sabha on Monday. It could not be taken up due to Congress’s disruptions of the House over non passage of a private member’s bill demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh for five years.
Detailing Congress’s concerns on the bill, Ramesh said, “The bill, which has come to be called the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, is opposed to the interest of tribals.”
“If this Bill is passed as it is, the provisions of Forest Rights Act 2006 will not be implemented because in the present form the Bill does not have provisions to implement the FRA Act. The bill provides for states to get the money but they will use this money to crush the tribals,” he said.
“We will move the amendments and press for them in Rajya Sabha,” he said, adding the government’s suggestion of including their suggestions in the rules were not acceptable to them.
Ramesh said the Congress wants the bill to explicitly state that CAMPA funds will only be used when “individual and collective rights of traditional forest dwellers are protected” and “approval of gram sabhas taken for use of funds”.
He also said Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will launch from August 17 his nationwide campaign for the protection of Forest Rights Act.
The first such programme is being held at Chittapalli in Vishakapatnam which Rahul will attend. Similar programmes are later planned in Odisha, Jharkhand, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
Congress has decided to move its amendments to the CAMPA Bill after a recent meeting of its leaders Ramesh and Digvijay Singh with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Environment Minister Anil Dave.
“The government spoke of reflecting our amendments in rules and not in the Act. We said that is not satisfactory,” a Congress leader said.
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