Land Rights Now Initiative Supports Civil Society Opposition to Afforestation Bill in India

Thursday, 28th July 2016

As India’s upper house is currently debating a controversial afforestation bill, civil society groups across the country are expressing concerns that the bill would do more harm than good.

The Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority Bill (also known as the CAMPA bill, or simply as the 'Afforestation Bill’) proposes to channel up to USD $ 7 billion to state forest departments for afforestation projects. While this initiative may sound positive, communities have cautioned that the move would take power from local communities and return it to inefficient state forest bureaucracies.

India’s landmark Forest Rights Act (FRA), passed in 2006, secures community rights to manage their lands and forests. Importantly, the CAMPA bill threatens to undermine these rights and completely disregards free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) – specifically by encouraging plantations and afforestation projects on forests that have already been claimed by local communities under the FRA.

The Bill has already been passed by the lower house, but is under discussion in the upper house as it awaits a vote this week. In the political din that has followed, civil society groups have raised their voices to block the bill until the right amendments are made to recognize the safeguards guaranteed to forest dwellers under the FRA. On Tuesday, a coalition of 120 women farmer organizations and collectives submitted a petition to the government against the bill, and as of today, over 100 NGOs and civil society organizations have written to the government, claiming in unison that the CAMPA Bill in its current form fundamentally opposes the FRA and fails to address legal rights of scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs).

The Land Rights Now Initiative stands in solidarity with this petition, and supports community and civil society's right to have their voices heard in the policy arenas which affect them. The concerns raised over the CAMPA Bill and its potential implications should be strongly addressed by India’s Parliament. We ask the Government of India to withdraw the CAMPA Bill and amend it to ensure that it includes the demands articulated by civil society and tribal organizations.

(source Land Rights Now