Ms Leena Nandan
Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MEFCC)
Govt of India
Dear Ms Nandan,
I understand that your Ministry has taken action to introduce a Bill to amend the Forest (Conservation) Rules in the Parliament during the ensuing winter session.
The Bill has far reaching implications for the lives of the adivasis across the country but, apparently, your Ministry is adamant to push through the amendments, irrespective of the same.
In this connection, I wish to refer to a detailed letter addressed on the subject by the Chairman of the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes (NCST) to the Minister for Environment (F.No. NCST-04/0mon/4/22-RMDC dated 26-9-2022), raising serious concerns about the proposed amendments, and requesting your Ministry to keep in abeyance the said amendments, pending a further examination on the basis of such concerns. I hope that your Ministry has taken into account the NCST’s views.
The NCST is a Constitutional authority set up under Article 338A. Clause (9) of that Article requires “the Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Tribes”
In compliance with the above Constitutional provisions, your Ministry, in my view, should, in the normal course, accept the Commission’s suggestions. In case your Ministry has chosen to differ with the Commission, as it appears to be the case, the reasons for the same should be stated explicitly and placed before the Parliament along with the Bill, in deference to the authority of the Commission.
I hope your Ministry has kept this in view.
I am conveying the contents of this letter to the offices of the President and the Parliament for their information.
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to Government of India
Former Commissioner for Tribal Welfare (Andhra Pradesh)Visakhapatnam