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Naga Hoho opposes FCA 2023

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 6: The Naga Hoho has strongly opposed the recent passage of the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill 2023 by the Parliament, terming it as a threat to the Constitutional protection guaranteed to Nagaland as well as a threat to tribal identity.
“This regressive legislation threatens to infringe upon the constitutional protections guaranteed to Nagaland under Article 371 (A) and poses a dire threat to the rights and heritage of the Scheduled Tribes”, it said in a statement.
NH said Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution acknowledges the distinct cultural identity and historical legacy of Nagaland, safeguarding its autonomy and traditional practices. Additionally, relevant acts and regulations exist to protect the rights and well-being of the Scheduled Tribes across the country.
Stating that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill 2023 has set off alarm bells across tribal communities, the NH said under the guise of protection, this bill expands the State’s reach into the heart of the traditional way of life.
“It opens doors to excessive Government control over the forests and lands, raising concerns that these precious resources may fall prey to the interests of private capitalists, exploiting and extracting the natural riches in the name of development”, it stated.
Alleging that the Government’s claim of protecting forests through such measures is a smokescreen for allowing commercial interests to prevail over the wellbeing and rights of the people, the NH said any policy that disregards such concerns and aspirations in the name of development is an affront to the principles of justice and equity.
“This legislation reflects a disregard for the sanctity of the tribal practices and an erosion of autonomy”, it said while expressing deep concern about the potential fallout from the Bill, which stands in stark contrast to the age-old community initiatives aimed at conserving the forests.
“It is crucial for the Government to recognize that tribal communities, particularly the Nagas, have been the custodians of forests through community-led initiatives deeply rooted in the culture. These practices must be respected and nurtured, rather than being undermined by the ill-conceived legislation.”
The NH also denounced the Government’s ulterior motives in potentially converting the region into a “security zone” under the pretext of national security, saying such a move, while purportedly for security reasons, runs the risk of side-lining the economic prosperity and focusing solely on a security-centric approach.
The economic and developmental aspirations of the region must not be overshadowed by security concerns, it said.
Calling upon the State Government to safeguard the constitutional rights and the rich heritage of the Nagas, the Hoho demanded that the State legislates to ensure that this harmful amendment does not find a foothold in Nagaland. It further reiterated its commitment to preserving the Naga way of life and ensuring that the rights and aspirations of the Naga people are respected.
(Page News Service)