You can view the discussion on The Reporters’ Collective Instagram account.
Our panellists were Manshi Asher, a researcher and activist with Himdhara, an environment research and action collective based in Himachal Pradesh; Mukta Joshi, legal researcher lead with Land Conflict Watch, a network researchers studying land conflicts and natural resource governance in India; and The Reporters’ Collective member and journalist Tapasya. The session was moderated by Pooja Bhatia, co-founder and director of The Blahcksheep.
This discussion spotlighted the need for public discourse on forest conservation with the interests of tribal and non-tribal stakeholders at the core as they are the traditional gatekeepers of forest lands whose livelihoods are intricately linked to forest conservation.
Ms. Joshi spelled out the legal aspects of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006, how they intersect each other historically and how Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 changes this interaction.
Manshi Asher, explained how the people historically living on forestland have a natural right on it. They have traditionally played the role of conservationists of these lands, and getting them out of these lands without their say, which the new rules propose, is unfair as it takes away their livelihoods. The new rule, brought in by the ministry of environment under pressure from other industry-linked ministries, had been in the works, explained Tapasya.