Independent member quits forest advisory panel

An independent member of the recently constituted Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), a regulatory authority that reviews proposals from project developers to use forest land, has resigned after allegations over his industrial interests.

K P Nyati quit the panel yesterday in the wake of green activists and organisations demanding immediate cancellation of his "inappropriate appointment", an Environment Ministry official said here today.

The activists and organisations alleged Nyati had association with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and mining industry companies.

According to a Supreme Court order, persons from mining or industrial interests cannot serve on Forest Committee.

A letter signed by 79 groups and individuals from 18 states and union territories, who are active on forest issues for years, had asked Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan that "genuinely independent experts be appointed on the FAC".

The signatories included prominent civil society groups like India Against Corruption, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (Assam), Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Chattisgarh Bachao Andolan, All India Forum of Forest Movements (Jharkhand) and Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.

The activists have also demanded removal of another independent member N P Todariya. According to them, he is not only very pro hydro but also been environmental impact assessment (EIA) consultant for a number of projects, many of which have been denied forest clearance.

Three independent members were appointed in the FAC for two-year term. They included N P Todariya, a professor at Garhwal University, Mohammed Feroz Ahmed, a wildlife biologist from Assam, and K P Nyati.

The new advisory panel to vet proposals related to forest clearances was constituted early this month.

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