Mizoram rejects govt's proposal to amend Forest Act

Photo for representation.

The Mizoram government has "rejected" the Centre's proposal to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927, as the proposed amendments are in "conflict" with the special provisions the state enjoys under Article 371G of the Constitution, an official said on Friday.

Mizoram Environment, Forest and Climate Change department secretary Ajai Saxena in a letter to the Director-General and Special Secretary in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said the state government has "rejected" the proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, the official said.

The letter dated October 21 was written after a consultation meeting was held in Aizawl last week. The meeting was chaired by state Forest minister TJ Lalnuntluanga and was attended by leaders of the civil societies, political parties, student bodies and churches.

"The meeting could not accept the draft amendment as many provisions have to be deleted. Some of the provisions are in contravention to the protection of customary law and ownership and transfer of lands as enshrined in the article 371G of the Constitution while also affecting the autonomy given to the autonomous district councils created under the sixth schedule of the constitution," the letter said.

Article 371G states that no Act of President in respect of (i) religious or social practices of the Mizos, (ii) Mizo customary law and procedure, (iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, (iv) ownership and transfer of land, shall apply to the state of Mizoram unless the Legislative Assembly of the state of Mizoram by a resolution so decides.

The letter said that the Mizoram government also opposed the proposal to totally do away with jhumming (slash and burn way of shifting cultivation) as it is a way of life for the agrarian hilly people and that also without providing an alternative livelihood.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had asked for feedback on the proposed amendment of the Forest Act on March 14.

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