Forest Rights: The Struggle for Democracy Continues


Friends,

The struggle for forest rights continues across the country, with almost all States witnessing protests, clashes and the beginnings of implementation of the Forest Rights Act.   The current State-wise status of the struggle has been updated and can be seen at:

http://forestrightsact.awardspace.com

Click on the link for "Information on Ongoing Implementation of the Act."

From the time of the fight over the drafting of this law, the Campaign and the other organisations that fought for it have always been clear that this law is not just about recognising some individual land titles.  It is the first step in democratising the forest.  And it is this agenda that has of course faced the most resistance, and it is the steps towards democracy that have continously been targeted by the government.  

This is now continuing in the struggle around implementation.  Having failed to destroy the law itself, the Centre and practically all the State governments are now clear that they want to limit this Act to individual land titles, and to as few such titles as possible.  The most powerful aspect sof the Act are the recognition of community rights to forest resources, and especially of the power to protect and conserve community forest resources.  But every effort is being made to prevent the claiming and exercise of these rights.  Thus, in Madhya Pradesh, forms for community rights are marked "N/A"; in Chhattisgarh, they have not been distributed at all; and, at the Central level, the Ministry has simply left out community forest resources from the claim forms entirely. 

In addition to the State-level work that has been going on till date, the Campaign has recently launched a nationwide struggle program on community rights.  A statement will be issued on this shortly.

As the true potential of the Act emerges in the struggles against Vedanta, POSCO and elsewhere, we have no doubt that this effort to divert the Act's true potential will continue.  It was expected that the opponents of democracy in the forest would try to dilute and reduce the law to reduce the "damage" to their interests.  This is now clearly happening.

Campaign for Survival and Dignity