Jammu: Expressing deep concern over the failure of the Forest Department to fully implement the Forest Rights Act 2006 at the grassroots level, Vikrant Kapoor, General Secretary, J&K Forest Contractor and MFP Industrial Association, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha that he may take steps to implement this Act with immediate effect. He said that since its enactment in 01-04-2021, many conferences and meetings have been held with regard to the above subject to promote and politicize the implementation of Forest Rights Act on the part of the administration but it is not implemented at the ground level. Due to this, on one hand the contractors involved in extraction of minor forest produce in Jammu and Kashmir UT and people associated with MFP industries are facing problems and on the other hand the nomads, scheduled tribes, Gujjars, Bakarwals and the residents of the forest areas of forest hills of the Himalayan range are facing problems and their livelihood is also getting affected.
This was stated by Vikrat Kapoor, General Secretary of J&K Forest Contractor and MFP Industrial Association while addressing a press conference in Jammu here today. Apart from the contractors, industrialists were also present on this occasion. He said that its aim is to provide livelihood to all these people, but due to the indifferent attitude of the higher officials of the Forest Department, this act has not been implemented at the ground level so far and conferences and other activities in this regard are organized only through newspapers. It is done only to get headlines. He said that all non-timber plant species are covered under Section 2(1) of Section 3(1)(c) of the Forest Rights Act 2006. He further said that the Chief Conservator of Forests, after drafting a comprehensive policy regarding implementation, has submitted it to the Commissioner Secretary, Forest and Ecology Department, Jammu and Kashmir for implementation.
But since then many conferences and events have been organized but this act is yet to be implemented at the ground level which is a matter of serious concern. Due to its non-implementation, forest contractors, people associated with MFP industries as well as a large number of people are facing huge problems. This is the livelihood of these people and due to the indifferent attitude of the senior officers of the forest department, their families are standing on the verge of starvation. He alleged that senior officers of the department were indulging in corruption and had nexus with lower level officials which needed to be checked. He also raised questions on the not finalizing the draft of the policy and said that why this policy has not yet been finalized for the public interest. He said all the people associated with this business are waiting for this policy to be approved. He has further requested the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to issue instructions to the concerned officers to implement the policy at the earliest so that the people associated with this business can get relief and they can take care of their families properly. He has warned that if immediate steps are not taken by the government in this direction, then we will be forced to adopt the agational path and the government will be solely responsible for the situation arising out of it.