A Himalayan Issue
A section of activists from the Himalayan region has raised concerns over the proposed amendment to the FCA, saying it will erase the rights of indigenous communities living on India’s borders, a Down to Earth report said. The activists, who gathered for a dialogue on the issue, organised by the Youth for Himalaya coalition on 22 July, called the provisions of the Bill ambiguous. They expressed concerns over the provisions on exemptions from due processes paving the way for the exploitation of fragile forest lands and mountains.
The Bill exempts forest lands within 100 kilometres from the international border, Line of Control or Line of Actual Control for strategic linear projects. The activists noted that Kashmir and almost the entire Northeast India region come within this 100-kilometre ambit. They also raised concerns over the potential dilution of Article 371, which contains special provisions for certain states as well as the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
“For the North East, we have Article 371, the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and other special statuses which gives us certain immunities and rights to make decisions regarding our land. But this Bill is an erasure of those rights. It opens up the resource- rich areas of the Northeast to extractive industries,” said Pranab Doley, a political activist from the Mising tribe, Kaziranga, Assam.