Aizawl, October 4, 2019:

Mizoram government has opposed the Centre’s proposal to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927 as its provisions clash with the special provisions of the state.

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Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of Mizoram, T.J. Lalnuntluanga said that the proposal was opposed after a discussion with all stakeholders, including representatives of political parties, civil society organisations and officials.

Activists and tribal welfare organisations have also stood against the amendment of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. They are of the view that the bill intends to give higher management powers to others beyond what is stated in the Forest Rights Act of 2006. They have also claimed that the new proposal is a threat to forest dwellers and favors the business of private firms.

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It is to be mentioned here that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had called for feedback on the proposed amendment of the Forest Act on March 14. Following this, the Mizoram state government, in consultation with all the stakeholders, has opposed the move as its provisions came in conflict with the special provisions under Article 371G of the Constitution.

Article 371G states that special provision, with respect to the State of Mizoram, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution – no Act of President in respect of religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, no ownership and transfer of land shall apply to the State of Mizoram unless the Legislative Assembly of the State of Mizoram by a resolution so decides: Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to any Central Act in force in the union territory of Mizoram immediately before the commencement of the Constitution (Fifty third Amendment) Act, 1986.

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Mizoram Forest department, reportedly, said that the Indian Forest Act of 1927 had not been enforced in Mizoram. The State’s areas under forest have been governed by the Mizoram Forest Act of 1955 ‘in accordance with the customary laws and needs of the local people’.

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