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  • 04 January, 2023

  • 9 Min Read

Forest (Conservation) Rule 2022 v/s Forest Right Act

Forest (Conservation) Rule 2022 v/s Forest Right Act, 2006

The Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) recently stated that the NCST’s view on the Forest (Conservation) Rules 2022 which is in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 "would be the same” even as the Environment Ministry has dismissed these concerns.

What's the problem?

  • The Commission had suggested that these rules be put on hold right away in September 2022 after raising concerns about the new rules eliminating the consent clause for diverting forest property for other uses.
  • The ministry has responded by insisting that the regulations were created in accordance with the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 and that the NCST's suspicion that they violated the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 was "not legally tenable."
  • The Minister further clarified that the two legal procedures ran independently of one another and in parallel.
  • NCST had pointed out that the FCR 2022 had done away with the clause to mandatorily seek the consent of Gram Sabhas before the Stage 1 clearance, leaving this process to be done later and even after Stage 2 clearance.
  • In such a scenario, project proponents, having received partial clearance, will be pushing State and Union Territory governments for “diversion at the earliest”, which would be “seriously impacting the process of recognition of rights under the FRA”.
  • The government claims that FCR 2022 already stipulates that forest land can only be diverted "after fulfillment and compliance of all provisions, including settlement of rights under the Forest Rights Act," and that it does not preclude or interfere with the operation of other laws requiring the consent of Gram Sabhas.


  • The requirement for consent and recognition of rights prior to Stage I clearance in 2014 and 2017 Rules at least provided a legal space for ensuring completion of the processes for recognition and vesting of rights under the FRA in areas where forests are being diverted.

Significant difficulties posed by the new regulations:

  • Concerns have been raised about a provision in the new rules that would eliminate the consent clause for diverting forest property to other uses would weaken the institution of Gram Sabha and its role in protecting the rights of forest dwellers and forest land.
  • Rights violation: Project proponents who have received only partial clearance will press State and Union Territory governments for a diversion as soon as possible, which will negatively affect the FRA's procedure for recognizing rights.
  • Remove the check and balances: as a result forest land will be diverted without proper contemplation and compensation.
  • Resettlement: The demands of the inhabitants for resettlement will be disregarded once forest clearance is granted.

(The government's position) Counter argument:

  • The new regulations will enable parallel processing of the bids and get rid of unnecessary steps.
  • The regulations allow for the cultivation of plantings by private parties, who can then sell the plantations to businesses with compensating afforestation goals as land.
  • In addition to assisting India in increasing its forest cover, it will also assist the States in finding land under their control for compensatory purposes.

About The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980:

  • The broad aims of the Forest Conservation Act are to protect forests and wildlife, put brakes on State governments’ attempts to hive off forest land for commercial projects, and strive to increase the area under forests.
  • For forest land beyond five hectares, approval for diverting land must be given by the Central government. This is via a specially constituted committee, called the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC).
  • This committee examines whether the user agency or those who have requested forest land, have made a convincing case for the upheaval of that specific parcel of land, whether they have a plan in place to ensure that the ensuing damage — from the felling of trees in that area, denuding the local landscape — will be minimal and the said piece of land doesn’t cause damage to wildlife habitat.
  • Once the FAC is convinced and approves (or rejects a proposal), it is forwarded to the concerned State government where the land is located, who then has to ensure that provisions of the Forest Right Act, 2006,( a separate Act that protects the rights of forest dwellers and tribals over their land) are complied with.
  • The FAC approval also means that the future users of the land must provide compensatory land for afforestation as well as pay the net present value (ranging between ?10-15 lakh per hectare.)
  • The Forest Conservation Rules deal with the implementation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.
  • They prescribe the procedure to be followed for forest land to be diverted for non-forestry uses such as road construction, highway development, railway lines, and mining.

About The Forest Rights Act of 2006?

  • It is a law in India that attempts to acknowledge and vest the forest rights of traditional forest-dwelling populations, including Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have lived in and relied on forests for their subsistence.
  • The FRA acknowledges these communities' rights to access, make use of, and protect the resources found in forests as well as their habitat.
  • To aid in the process of recognizing and vetting forest rights, the legislation also stipulates the creation of Gram Sabhas (village assemblies).

What do the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, stipulate?

Establishment of Committees:

  • It included an advisory council, regional empowered committees at each of the integrated regional offices, and a screening committee at the level of the State/Union Territory (UT) government.
  • Compensatory Afforestation: Those who wish to divert forest land from a hilly or mountainous state that has more than two-thirds of its land covered in vegetation, or from a state or UT that has more than one-third of its land covered in forest, will be permitted to engage in compensatory afforestation in other states or UTs where the cover is less than 20%.
  • Allows Private Plantations: Under the guidelines, private parties are allowed to grow plantations and sell them to businesses that must afforest enough land to satisfy compensatory afforestation goals.
  • Before the revised regulations went into effect, state agencies would send the FAC documents that included details about the resolution of local residents' forest rights.

Gram Sabha's approval is not required:

  • According to the new regulations, after a project has received preliminary clearance from the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), it will be forwarded to state authorities who will gather the land and compensation fund and process it for final approval.
  • Previously, the written authorization of the gram sabha, or the local villages' governing body, was needed to divert the forest.

About The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes:

  • India has a constitutional body in the form of the National Commission for Schedule Tribes, for the purpose of defending the rights and interests of Scheduled Tribes
  • The NCST conducts inquiries, looks into complaints, and advises the government on matters pertaining to STs.
  • Every time a rule has the potential to violate the rights of tribal people, it is the responsibility of the Commission to step in and suggest remedial actions.

Way Forward

  • The Gram Sabha plays a crucial role in the protection of forest dwellers well as the forest. The consent clause must not be overlooked, in spite, a time-bound consent rule must apply so that the project is not delayed and proper checks are also ensured.

Source: The Hindu

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