Bhupender Yadav, Jairam sparred over Forest Bill sent to Select Committee – Business Standard

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Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav and former union minister Jairam Ramesh sparred on Saturday over the government's move to send the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 to a select committee of the two Houses with the Congress leader stating that it should have been sent to the Standing Committee on Environment for scrutiny.
In response to Jairam Ramesh's earlier remarks, Bhupender Yadav tweeted a list of the bills sent by Congress governments in the past to the select committees.
"Jairam Ramesh says referring the Forest Conservation Amendment Bill to a Joint Committee is "devaluation and denigration" of processes. Will serve him well to take a hard look at how many Bills introduced in Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha were sent by Cong govts to the Joint Committee," Yadav said.
Jairam Ramesh, a Congress general secretary, responded by stating that Standing Committees came into existence only in 1993 and the minister should have done "better homework"
"Standing Committees came into existence only on March 31 1993. Better homework was expected of you Mantriji," he said in a tweet.
Bhupender Yadav hit back saying that "truth won't change just because Congress turns a blind eye to it".
"The detailed list is a result of thorough homework, Jairam ji. If you make the effort to look closely, you'd know Congress kept referring Bills to Joint Committees even post-1993. The good thing about truth is, it won't change just because you or Cong turn a blind eye to it," Yadav said.
"Due Parliamentary process was followed in the case of the said Bill. Positive participation in this process is incumbent upon the Opposition. Criticism for the sake of criticism from the Opposition is not healthy for democracy," he added.
Jairam Ramesh, who addressed a press conference on 50th anniversary of Project Tiger, said that the government introduced a bill to amend the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 in Lok Sabha on Wednesday and it was referred to the Select Committee instead of the Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment and Forest as he is its Chairman.
He also gave the example of amendments to the National Biodiversity Act last year and said it too didn't come to Standing Committee on Environment and Forests and went to the Select Committee.
Jairam Ramesh said that the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes had written a four-page letter to the Environment & Forest Minister in September last year.
The Congress leader said the chairam of the commission had stated that "amendments in rules are not in the interest of tribals who live in forests, they go against the Forest Rights Act passed in 2006 and snatch away the Constitutional and legal rights of the tribals".
Jairam Ramesh, a former union Environment Minister. alleged that whatever has been achieved in the last 50 years in the field of forest conservation and wildlife protection "is under threat today".
He said that the purpose of Project Tiger, started by former PM Indira Gandhi, was not only the protection of Tigers but also the conservation of forests.
Terming Project Tiger very successful, he said that the number of tiger reserves has increased from nine at the time of launch to 53 today and they constitute one-third of the area of total dense forests in India.
He said that Wildlife Protection Act, of 1972 was amended some months ago, which was opposed by the Congress party.
The Congress leader alleged that the amendments have opened the doors for trade in elephants.
"While we applaud when our documentary on elephants wins Oscar but in reality, the government is working against the welfare of elephants. Elephant was declared as National Heritage Animal in 2010 but it is in danger today due to amendment in the law," he said.
Jairam Ramesh credited Indira Gandhi for making laws for the environment and forest conservation.
Terming these laws as milestones, he said the Environment Ministry and related institutions were formed at the Centre and state levels and the environment became a central point in Congress government's policies and its economic viewpoint.
He said Indira Gandhi believed that there must be a balance between development and environment and alleged "this balance is being destroyed today".
Jairam Ramesh said that climate change is a big challenge before the whole world today. "We would be able to deal with it only if the environment and forest laws are implemented strictly without showing any leniency and the institutions are strengthened."
He alleged that the Modi government and some industrialists think that environment laws were against "'ease of doing business".
"As per the Forest Rights Act, the rights of the tribals living in forest areas have to be fulfilled first before starting a project in such places".
He alleged that the government thinks of the environmental laws "as regulatory burdens and doesn't look upon these as societal obligations".
Responding to a query, Jairam Ramesh said that the government "pushed" Competition (Amendment) Bill and Finance Bill and is likely to pass a couple of more bills on Monday but the Opposition is going to continue with its demand of JPC enquiry into Adani issue.
He added that 19 Opposition parties are united in this demand and there is no middle path as far as this is concerned.
He stated that no attempt has been made by the ruling party to break the logjam in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha since the start of the second part of the budget session.
First Published: Apr 02 2023 | 1:50 AM IST
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