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To: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; State Governments
Stop the draconian Indian Forest Act, 2019 from coming into force
Scrap the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019 and put in place a more inclusive, environmentally sustainable law.
Why is this important?
This is bad news, and needs your urgent intervention!
A few weeks ago, our Union government proposed an overhaul of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The colonial-era was imposed by British rulers so they could exert autonomy over India's forests.
While replacing this much criticised act is a welcome move, the draft law that will follow is worrying, in more ways than one. It has enhanced the policing and quasi-judicial powers that forest officials enjoyed under the original act and provide them yet more. It gives them the power to use firearms with exceptional levels of immunity from prosecution. This means that the forest department can shoot at citizens, search and seize property and arrest people even on mere suspicion of committing a crime.
Doesn't this remind you of something? Yes, this draft law is much like the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA).
In addition, it will reduce and restrict tribals and forest dwellers' access to forest produce and diminish the role of gram sabhas, by letting forest officials have the last say.
The law has currently been shared with state governments for consultations, which will be completed by June 7. States Governments must take a united stand against this draconian act, that threatens the livelihoods of marginalised communities.
Together we can put pressure on the Environment Minister, and consequently the Union government, to scrap the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019. Sign this petition now.