Forest Conservation and Tribal Rights in Northeast India
- Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA) 2006:
- Forest Land includes unclassified forests, un-demarcated forests, existing or deemed forests, protected forests, reserved forests, Sanctuaries, and National Parks.
- This complied with the 1996 Supreme Court redefinition.
- Article 371A and 371G:
- Special Constitutional protections in Article 371A (Nagaland) and 371G (Mizoram) prohibit the application of laws that impinge on tribal customary law, land ownership, and transfer without the State Legislative Assemblies’ resolutions.
- Recently, The Mizoram Assembly has passed a resolution opposing the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act (FCA), 2023, highlighting the ongoing challenges in forest conservation and tribal rights in Northeast India.
- The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act of 2023 allows forest land diversion for projects within 100 km of India’s international borders without requiring forest clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980.
- Most of Northeast India falls within the 100 km range, raising concerns about the environmental impact and infringement on tribal rights.
- Mizoram and Tripura have passed resolutions opposing the amendment, expressing their commitment to protecting the rights and interests of their people.
- Many forests in the North East are privately owned: either by individuals, clans village councils, or communities, enabled by special privileges that the Constitution guarantees to tribal communities. This means that these large areas of unclassed forests would be excluded from this Act unless they are included in government records.