NEW DELHI: Climate activist Disha Ravi claimed on Saturday that the government was “watering down” environmental laws by proposing amendments to the Forest Conservation Act and that this “trend” started with changes to assessment rules environmental impact last year.
The 23-year-old activist, who was arrested in February as part of a ‘toolkit’ on farmer protests, also said indigenous, tribal people and conservationists are hurt every day for the very work that will protect everyone.
“People often say that open forest cover is increasing. However, if you look at this data closely, you will see that the definition of ‘open forest cover’ is so vague that it can even include 30 to 40 trees planted near the trees. from each other. a park. This fuzziness in the definition allows data to be manipulated,” Ravi said during a discussion at the India Today Conclave.
“With the reforms proposed in the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) of 1980, the government is diluting India’s environmental laws. Many projects will not need the approvals they needed earlier. This trend started with the changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment Rules last year,” she said.
On October 2, the Center sent all states a copy of the proposed amendments to the FCA, soliciting their objections and suggestions within 15 days.
According to the proposal, land acquired by railways and road ministries before 1980, but on which forests have appeared, will no longer be considered as forests.
The Center is also proposing to remove the requirement for prior government approval for border infrastructure development on forest lands, saying this leads to delays in the implementation of critical projects.
Ravi said the fact that indigenous peoples, adivasis and conservationists are “hurt every day for doing the very work that will protect us all worries me”.
“An example is Hidme Markram, an Adivasi woman who was arrested on Women’s Day this year for protesting against coal mining which we all know is bad for us for several reasons,” she said. declared.
According to reports, Chhattisgarh police had arrested Markram, 30, from Dantewada district on charges of being a member of the banned CPI (Maoist) group.
Ravi said she got involved in environmental protection because her grandparents, who were farmers, had to suffer from a water crisis.
“My mother used to carry water before going to school,” she said.
“Environmental activism is about humans because we’re all part of it. It’s the Earth fighting back,” the activist said.