The Supreme Court’s decision to let gram sabhas decide the fate of Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mining project will make it difficult for the government to divert forestland for industry without the consent of tribals and local population.

The apex court’s ruling on Thursday puts gram sabhas or village assemblies virtually at par with statutory and regulatory bodies, and gives a broader prism of rights to indigenous communities by defining the Forest Rights Act as more than just heritable property rights.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has urged the state governments to improve and expedite existing land reform measures to address the needs of the poor and landless, a tacit recognition tha

The government’s plan to increase and improve the quality of India’s forests has run into a wall due to shortage of funds. The Green India Mission, which is part of the government’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, has set a goal of increasing forest cover by 5 million hectares and improving the quality of forests on another 5 million hectares by 2020, an effort that’s going to cost. 46000 crore over a ten year period.

The Planning Commission was entrusted with the task of raising additional funds, over and above the. 8,500 crore annual outlay on forestry. However, Plan panel has told the environment ministry to try and raise money from its own budget.

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When Jairam Ramesh was replaced as environment minister some 18 months ago, loud sighs of relief from industry greeted the news. Ramesh, in the short period at the helm of the ministry, had acquired a reputation for inflexibility, and many started blaming him for stalled projects and declining investments, some even holding his ‘activist’ zeal responsible for the ensuing economic slowdown.

The move to ease diversion of forest land for industrial use by the Prime Minister’s Office faces further delay as the ministries of tribal affairs and environment want more time for consultations. A panel headed by principal secretary to the prime minister, Pulok Chatterjee, had decided to dilute the requirement of taking consent from the affected tribal population before diverting forest land. The committee, which submitted its report on December 12, included top officials from tribal affairs and environment ministries.

The recommendations for all practical purposes allow the forest clearance process to bypass the gram sabhas, or village assemblies, which are the basic units for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

Mines to be exempt from holding public hearings as part of the environment clearance process

Tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo has asked environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan to ensure that diversion of forestland for development projects does not result in violation of the r

The environment ministry has simplified the procedures for granting clearances to special economic zones as it seeks to shed the anti-industry image.

The government plans to introduce the new land bill in parliament early next week as it seeks to enact a law that gives handsome compensation to displaced persons and requires the consent of 80% of

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