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The Himalayan Times: Forest Act Amendment Bill in Limbo
KATHMANDU: The forest Act (1993) amendment bill, prepared by the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, is currently stuck at the Ministry of Law and Justice for consultation.
It had got the green signal from the Cabinet of Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government on July 16, 2010.
At a time, when the ministry is facing criticism from the community forests groups across the nation, the white paper released by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has mentioned that the bill needs to be discussed with the stakeholders before taking any further action on the purposed amendment.
However, officials at the MoFSC said it was needless intervention by MoF. “It is not the role of Ministry of Finance to deal with the act and it is unnecessarily mentioned in the white paper,” said Ram Prasad Lamsal, spokesperson, MoFSC.
The then forest minister Deepak Bohara, who initiated the move, was said to be not in a good terms with the Federation of Community Forests Users Group Nepal (FECOFUN) as the latter was against the Forest Ministry’s decision to declare the Banke National Park and the Gaurishanker and Apinampa as conservation areas, stating that such declarations restrict communities access to forests.
The purposed amendment has the provision to increase the sharing of income from the community forests with the government, from the present 15 per cent to 50 per cent and also had a provision to increase the role of the government forest officials in wood trade and other activities in the community forests.
On the nineteen-point white paper that was made public last week, the Ministry of Finance has mentioned about the act in point six but “in general, white paper of the government talks about the plans and programmes rather than the laws and rules,” said one official at MoFSC.
“The amendment issue in white paper is aimed to linger the ongoing efforts of the ministry and is politically motivated,” said one of the officials.
FECOFUN has been protesting for months in central, regional and local level demanding to scrap the decision of Cabinet on amendment of proposed bill.
The officials at the Ministry of Forest claim that the amendment is needed and deny any intension to curb the rights of communities. “Our intension is to promote sustainable forest management and the amendment is one of the efforts to curb rampant deforestation in forests, which has been on the rise in recent years,” added Lamsal.
Posted By Adam Houston at 11:30am on April 18, 2011
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