GCC for review of Forest Conservation Amendment Bill 2023

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, June 4: A non-political civil society collective known as the Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC) has urged for a comprehensive review of the Forest Conservation Amendment Bill 2023.
The GCC, represented by a distinguished delegation, presented a Memorandum to Rajendra Agarwal, Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) responsible for examining the bill.
The Memorandum emphasizes the crucial need to incorporate robust safeguards and measures within the proposed amendments to ensure the preservation of forest conservation, the environment, ecology, and biodiversity in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
One of the primary concerns raised by the GCC delegation pertains to the effectiveness and impact of the “compensatory forestry” clauses included in the proposed amendments.
The delegation questions the timely implementation of such plantation initiatives, highlighting their tendency to fall short of the intended goals.
Additionally, the GCC underscores the importance of preserving the concessions provided under the Forest Rights Act 2006 to tribals and other forest-dependent communities.
The delegation further emphasized the need to protect traditional grazing tracts and routes used by nomadic Gujjars and Bakarwals in Jammu and Kashmir. They argued that the livelihoods of these communities should not be compromised in the process of enacting the amendments.
During their meeting with the Chairman of the JPC, the GCC delegation expressed apprehension regarding the potential negative consequences on Jammu and Kashmir’s already-threatened natural resources.
They specifically voiced concerns about the impact of the proposed amendments on glaciers, water bodies, and wetlands. The delegation fears that the bill may lead to further depletion of forest cover and hinder conservation efforts in the region.
The GCC delegation consists of notable members, including Khurshid Ganie (IAS), former Advisor to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir; GH Kango, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests; GJ Nehvi, former Commissioner/ Secretary to the Government; Latief uz Zaman Deva, former Chairman of the Public Service Commission; Khaliq u Zaman, former Principal District and Sessions Judge, and Mohammad Rafi, former Director/ Mission Advisor of School Education, who also served as the Secretary of the GCC.