Nagaland assembly to pass resolution against contentious Forest Bill, says CM Rio

Kohima, Sep 11 : Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday said that a resolution will be passed, in the ongoing assembly session, against the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill 2033 as discussed and suggested by the legislators and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in the consultative meeting on September 1.  The Chief Minister, participating in the discussion on the forest bill on the first day of the three-day assembly session, said that land and its resources belong to the people in the case of Nagaland. However, Rio also said that the state government as well as the people of Nagaland should cooperate with the central government if the acquisition of land is required for development or security related matters. Rio also mentioned the importance and necessity to have proper legislation on Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning as it provides compensation to property loss or damage while making development. The Bill, to amend the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 was brought in to prevent exploitation of India's forest reserves and gave powers to the Central government to compensate adequately for any land used for non-forest purposes, was introduced in the Lok Sabha in March. Thereafter, it was referred to a 32-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal. Participating in the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, MLA, Sukhato stated the proposed law should be applied only to government reserved forest, wildlife sanctuaries, and National Parks, which covers around five per cent of the state???s geographical area. He also said that the forest owned by private individuals and communities measuring approximately 95 per cent should not come under the purview of the proposed legislation. MLA Neisato Mero said that the proposed law would jeopardize and undermine the landowners of the Nagas though protected by Article 371 (A). After passing the bill in the parliament, it would be a threat to the Nagas as they depend mostly on forest products such as flora and fauna for livelihood, he said, adding that if the proposed law is enacted, it may affect the economy of a certain percentage of people. Therefore, a resolution was passed by the assembly for the exemption of the state from the law. MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu said that it is important for discussion on the issue of the proposed forest law for protection of social, culture and traditions, identity, and natural resources for the future generation. ???It is a direct threat to our history and this act, instead of preserving the forest, would become more vulnerable to further damages,??? he said. /IANS


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