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AFSPA-like Changes to Indian Forests Act?

This amendment will put around a fifth of India’s geographic area — about 708,273 square kilometre of forested lands — under a policing regime akin to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

After having failed in defending the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change (MoEFC) under the Narendra Modi government has now introduced a draconian draft amendment to the Indian Forests Act. This amendment will put around a fifth of India’s geographic area — about 708,273 square kilometre of forested lands — under a policing regime akin to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. It will restore higher management powers and also will provide veto powers to the forest bureaucracy. This essentially makes the denial of rights to tribals and traditional forest dwellers convenient for the forest officials, even if they are recognised under the FRA.

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