Friday, 10 October 2014

Development Roadmap: Threat to India’s Environment and Wildlife

The development roadmap of present government as indicated through their recent

Photo: Survival International
economic policies would sharply pose a threat to India’s marginalized communities, green environment and precious wildlife. Thus with the dilution of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to grant forest clearances for facilitating development projects is a step towards this. The most sensitive areas around tiger reservation, national parks and sanctuaries now would be under the grab of project developers as they have been de-linked from wildlife assessment impacts.

Such kind of policy decision would necessarily help the developers to go ahead with the linear projects of irrigation, canals, highways and power lines, but by massive destruction of India’s rich forest areas and its wildlife. Though providing funds for compensatory afforestation is mandatory, but fair utilization of this fund would be a challenge.

 The present government has also done away with the need for consent of tribals for forest and mine openings in their traditional lands, which clearly violates their rights. The state government can no longer put any additional conditions to protect forest and biodiversity for those projects which have been cleared from the Centre.

All these steps are taken with a justification that India need development, and all its citizens must enjoy the fruits of it. But such a policy roadmap to modernize India clearly in contradiction with the issue of the rights of tribals over their forest land, which would also be at the cost of precious environment and wildlife. This development policy is unsustainable and undemocratic. Can this development ensure the well being of the last and the least in the country or is it a path towards more inequity in the economy?

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