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Forest Rights Act clearance: Gram Sabha nod for projects a two-edged sword

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The government did well to dilute the requirement for gram sabha consent for projects on forest land on which tribals and other forest dwellers enjoy certain rights, but must move cautiously on this on ground. As per The Indian Express, the Centre has freed in-principle approval for projects of the need for gram sabha consent under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Under the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Rules 2016, a project had to first receive clearance from affected gram sabhas before the forest department examined it for approval. While dispensing with the requirement for the gram sabha nod at the initial stage itself should prove a boon for cases like Coal India subsidiary Western Coalfield Limited’s, with many of its proposals stuck at various levels because of the lack of FRA compliance certificates, the new protocol could prove a double-edged sword. Pushing FRA compliance to a later stage risks projects getting scuttled or stuck at the last moment, after........

© The Financial Express