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Seminar by Dr. Abhilash T

Seminar on ‘Reforming Colonial Relics?  Reflections on the Draft Indian Forest (Amendment) Act, 2019.’

A seminar on ‘Reforming Colonial Relics?  Reflections on the Draft Indian Forest (Amendment) Act, 2019’ was held at the Joan Robinson Hall on May 10, 2019. The seminar was presented by Dr Abhilash T, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies Trivandrum.

Abstract: The paper examines the draft Indian Forest (Amendment)  Act, 2019  in the context of the 13 February 2019 Supreme Court verdict on the eviction of forest dwellers after their community rights claim under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was rejected. The Draft, which aims to amend the colonial legislation, the  Indian Forest Act, 1927, seems to be not addressing the broad long-lasting conservation traditions and practices of local communities and has also ignored the significant economic and cultural dependence of people on the ecosystems and species to be covered. This paper analyses the field level qualitative data of  Malai Panadram community in Konni reserve forest and Cholanaikan community in New Amarambalam reserve forest in order to understand the functioning of the existing forest legislations and its impact on the socio-economic life of the forest-dwelling tribal communities. The paper concludes that the 2019 Draft is stridently moving away from the community-involved conservation models and giving forest bureaucracy more power in a landscape largely populated by marginalised and illiterate communities that continue to be forest-dependent,  which will allow for serious abuse of power. Therefore, the paper argues for a  thorough revision of the Draft in consonance with other progressive legislations related to conservation and forest management.