Jammu: MP Rajya Sabha Gulam Ali Khatana on Monday directed the Forest department to implement the Forest Rights Act in right earnest and not unnecessarily harass the tribals in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.
In a statement issued to the press, he said, “Tribals in J&K are the most peaceful and nationalist people and the department should take them into confidence before launching any drive.”
Khatana was addressing a joint meeting of the Forest department headed by Principal Chief Conservator Forest Dr Mohit Gera and the representatives of tribal community. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi under Forest Rights Act provided constitutional guarantees to the forest dwellers, use of forest produce, basic amenities without infringing upon the biodiversity of the forests. He said, “Tribals have been living in these forest areas for hundreds of years and have never harmed the ecological balance.”
“It is the rapid urbanization with population explosion which has become a threat to the nature and the environment but tribals have been living at ease with the nature and forests are protected by them not destroyed,” said Khatana, adding that the Forest department too was trying to do its duty but they should take tribals into confidence before launching any drive.
He said that the tribal community always cooperated with the government departments but forced implementation of any scheme or orders would result in conflict, which should be avoided.
The officers of the Forest department headed by PCCF Mohit Gera said that it had never been their intention to harass the forest dwellers. He assured that the Forest department would take the local representatives into confidence before launching any drive.
They appreciated the efforts of the MP to bring all the stakeholders on one table and discuss the issues threadbare. Among the forest officials, who attended the meeting, also included Chief Conservator of Forests B M Sharma, Conservator Forests B Mohan Dass and DFO Jammu Anoop Soni.