BENGALURU: With the last date to submit objections to the draft National Forest Policy 2018 soon approaching, the citizen groups and organisations have upped the ante gathering signatures and views from the citizens. Jhatkaa.org, a campaigning organisation has gathered 500 signatures and is in the process of taking suggestions to have robust National Forest Policy.
One of the major objections to the draft is the inclusion of private partnership. Activists believe that private parties should have no rights over forest land.
"Why do we need private partnerships? No private party shall have rights to implementation on forest land. Private partnerships should only be for compensatory afforestation by means of finances. Implementation by private parties inside forest land could be disastrous in the current context," the organisation stated.
In an email template, the campaigning organisation has suggested that the point of the diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes is absent in the current draft, though this was included in the 1988 National Forest Policy.
"While 2018 National Forest Policy does articulate threats, there is a complete omission of mining and linear intrusion projects, which was articulated in Section 4.4 of 1988 National Forest Policy. Moreover, private partnerships should be completely prohibited from forest lands including plantation forests to ensure there is no illegal squatting, encroachments or diversion for non-forestry purposes. An example is the banning of old leases on forest land," the template of Jhatkaa.org explains.
It further stated, "Promotion of cultivation, harvesting, transportation and marketing of wood would be ensured by relaxing the existing felling and transit regime in the country.”
The campaigning organisation believes that this could trigger series of passes for transportation and transit of illegal timber from forests, directly linking back to abuse by corrupt officials in forest and revenue departments. The last date to file objections along with the suggestions is April 14.