Nagaland assembly passes resolution on Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023
The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023, enacted by Parliament and notified by Government of India on August 4 deals with land and its resources (forests)
Nagaland assembly on Thursday passed a resolution on the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023 which will only be applicable to Nagaland subject to the constitutional guarantees provided in Article 371A of the Constitution of India.
Nagaland is the second state assembly after Mizoram to pass a resolution against the amendments made in the Forest Conservation Act during monsoon session of Parliament citing provisions of the Article 371A, which provides special protection to tribal and local customs of Nagaland.
Article 371A grants special provisions to the state of Nagaland, stating that, “notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedures and administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary laws, and ownership and transfer of land and its resources shall apply to the state of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides”.
The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023, which was enacted by Parliament and notified by the Government of India on August 4 deals with land and its resources (forests).
After thoroughly deliberating the matter in the ongoing monsoon session, the state assembly resolved that, “Whereas the amended Act has inserted a new Section, namely, Section 1(A)(2) which exempted from the operation of the principal Act such forest lands situated within a distance of 100 km along international borders, Line of Control or Actual Line of Control as the case may be, proposed to be used for construction of strategic linear project of national importance and concerning national security; And whereas the above exempted area of 100 kilometres from international borders will cover most parts of Nagaland State; And whereas in Nagaland the ownership of most of the forest lands vests with tribal communities.”
Citing the concerns raised by Naga tribal bodies, stakeholders and their strong objection to the application of Section 1(A)(2) of the Act in Nagaland on the ground that it would infringe on traditional ownership and usage of forest lands and its resources in the state, the 60-member assembly also expressed its view that the term “land and its resources” mentioned in Article 371A include forest lands and its resources, and the application of Section 1(A)(2) of the amended Act to Nagaland would jeopardise the existing rights of tribal communities on their forest lands and its resources.