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EKantipur.com: Forest Ministry Withdraws Amendment Bill
Almost a year later, the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) withdrew its proposal to amend the Forest Act-1993. It said it will revise some conflicting provisions in the proposal related to the rights of the community over natural resources.
The Ministry of Law and Justice on Thursday forwarded the amendment bill prepared by the MoFSC after the latter said it wanted to review the proposal before sending it for final approval, Law Ministry Spokesperson Rajman Singh said on Friday.
According to him, the decision to revisit the bill was taken to hold consultations with stakeholders concerned, including the community forest users’ groups (CFUGs), before taking a final decision.
Recently, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) had mentioned in its white paper that the bill needs to be discussed with the stakeholders before any further action is taken.
The MoFSC led by the then forest minister Dipak Bohora on July 16, 2010 proposed a second amendment to the existing Forest Act in a wake of massive deforestation in the country. It had then said that there is a need to address issues that have cropped up in the management of community forests like lack of transparency that was said to be one of the reasons for the massive deforestation. The CFUGs have been launching a series of protests against the government’s move to amend the Act. They say the government is trying to curtail the rights and access of the local communities over their forest resources.
“The decision to withdraw the proposal to amend the Forest Act is the result of our continued struggle to raise the voice of the communities who have been protecting and managing the forests for years,” said Apsara Chapagain, chairperson of the Federation of Community Forestry Users’ Nepal (FECOFUN).
The MoFSC had proposed that the government share in the income from the community forests would be 50 per cent, up from the current 15 percent and that the government forest officials would have more role to play in timber trade and other activities of the community forests.
According to Chapagain, the earlier government failed to consult local communities and other stakeholders concerned when it proposed the amendment. “And we are not sure if this new government will consult us before it decides to go ahead with the amendment,” she said.
Meanwhile, Joint Secretary at the MoFSC Ram Lamsal said the proposal will be revisited and re-submitted to the Law Ministry and later forwarded to the parliament for final approval.
He said that as lawmakers representing the Natural Resources and Means Committee (NRMC) had decided to revise the existing Forest Act, there is no need to hold consultations with other partners, including the CFUGs regarding the amendment.
Posted By Adam Houston at 12:06pm on July 11, 2011
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