'Draft policy on giving forest land to private players dangerous'

Jairam Ramesh. PTI file photo.

Former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has objected to a provision in the Centre's new draft forest policy to grant forest land to private players.

He was speaking at a discussion on the draft forest policy organised by Environment Support Group and Action Aid in the city on Friday.

"The new policy is only beneficial to private players. Everyone should oppose this draft policy," he said.

About 40% of the forests in our country are facing threats today. Instead of framing policies to develop the forest area, it is being given away to private players, he said.

"The government reasons that private companies, with their advanced technology, will be able to develop the forests. But this would be as good as handing over," Ramesh said.

He said state governments should gather courage and write to the Centre expressing their objections to this policy.  

The Central government is thinking only in the short term on this. It has not discussed the pros and cons of involving private players in the management of natural resources.

The new policy gives permission for expansion of national highways in forest areas, permission for railway projects, the establishment of reservoirs and hydel plants, and other such activities, he said.

Ramesh warned that if the draft policy is allowed to be finalised, state governments would lose control over their forests.


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