This investigative series exposes how the Modi government favoured commercial interests over forest conservation and indigenous rights while abandoning the long-delayed National Forest Policy. Just after taking office, it aimed to open forests for private plantations, culminating in the 2023 amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act. These changes prioritize profit over biodiversity, granting private businesses access to India's forests. The amendment limits protection to recognized forests, endangering large swathes of potential unofficial forestland. These investigations reveal a troubling pattern of forest exploitation, corporate interests, and indigenous rights neglect.
Modi govt's dogged pursuit of a plan to open forests for commercial plantation began shortly after taking office, documents show. Though it faced pushback for hurting tribal rights and forests, the plan reached a fruition through the recent Forest (Conservation)Act amendment.
In 1996, the Supreme Court asked the Union government and states to identify and protect all of India’s forests. For 27 years, they did not complete the job. Now, the Centre’s new forest law has removed protection for forests not recognised on paper.
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