SHILLONG, July 16 - The Forest Department today held a consultative meeting with stakeholders, seeking their views on the proposed draft amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Representatives from the District Council, traditional heads and other institutions attended the meeting and sought two months’ time to study the draft amendment.
“Since Meghalaya is a Sixth Schedule State, over 95 per cent of the forest area is under the district councils or traditional institutions or privately owned. So amendment to the Act will not affect the State in any manner,” MBK Reddy, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (ACCF), said.
He said just five per cent of the forest area is under the control of the State under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Reddy said the Centre wants to amend the British-era Act and bring in uniformity in the country, although most States like Meghalaya have their own Forest Acts.
“The Centre is, therefore, trying to get the views of the stakeholders before the draft prepared by a core committee is given a final shape,” the ACCF said.
Some of the proposed amendments include subjects like sustainable management of forest, duties of village councils in protection of forests and other such chapters.
Meanwhile, Reddy stated that Meghalaya has about 76 per cent of its area under forests according to a Forest Survey of India report.
On the other hand, the Meghalaya Land Forest Owners’ Association (MLFOA), led by its adviser John F Kharshiing, submitted a memorandum to Lakmen Rymbui, Minister in charge of Forest, urging him to move the Centre and consider a review of its decision to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and other forest-related Acts.
The MLFOA said the Acts are in conflict with the customary land holding systems of the State. The organisation further sought exemption for the State, through a Presidential notification.