AIZAWL, Aug 31 - Expressing concern over the proposed amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee has voiced its opposition to the draft Bill and accused the MNF Government of “not having guts” to oppose the Centre’s move.
Addressing reporters here today, MPCC spokesperson and convener of the State Congress study group on the draft Bill, Prof Lallianchhunga said that the draft Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2019 poses a serious threat to Mizo tribals as majority of them depend on forest resources. He accused Chief Minister Zoramthanga of not paying heed to the issue highlighted in a memorandum.
“The MPCC study group has also submitted proposals to the Mizoram PCCF, but no action has been taken so far. We strongly feel the need to highlight again how the draft amendment Bill can be detrimental to Mizoram,” Lallianchhunga said.
The Congress said that the proposed Bill would have far-reaching implications “as it not only has provisions to override other forest laws and displace the forest community, but also to dilute the authority of the village council”.
The party added that the proposed amendment seeks to further consolidate the powers of forest officers and the Forest Department, which would infringe on the rights of the people and affect the livelihood of farmers.
The Congress has asked the State Government to convene a consultative meeting on the draft Bill involving all stakeholders of the State as directed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It demanded that the State Government must take steps to ensure that changes and improvement be made on those sections of the draft Bill, which are harmful for the State.
The Congress wants that the proposal to restrict shifting cultivation within a given time frame be omitted as it would harm the interests of the cultivators who have not yet been able to switch over to other permanent modes of cultivation.