Sendenyu Village(s) condemns The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023

Tseminyu: Village councils appeal all fellow Naga tribes’ village councils to take matter as great urgency and imminent crisis

BY | Sunday, 13 August, 2023

The four village councils of Sendenyu Rengma Naga tribe, namely Sendenyu VC, New Sendenyu VC, Thongsunyu VC and Lostuphen VC has unanimously condemned the recently passed Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, a press release informed. The councils stated that the FCA 2023 “challenges the very essence of traditional customary and indigenous ownership-rights of the people over their land and forest as per the proviso of Article 371(a).”

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The press release mentioned that in 2001, as a response to a rapid decline of fauna and flora species in the region, the indigenous leaders and members of Sendenyu village(s) resolved to start community biodiversity conservation by unanimously passing The Sendenyu Village Wildlife Conservation Act 2001. Consequently, people voluntarily donated their clan and private lands for community conservation to form a wildlife and biodiversity corridor of approx. 22 sq km (2200 hectares), which was resolved to be managed by Sendenyu Community Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation Board. As a result of the continued effort, Sendenyu Biodiversity Conservation has recorded an increase population of flora and fauna and has recorded newly discovered amphibian species i.e. Ichthyophis Sendenyu now listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sendenyu Community Conserved Area under Tseminyu District, State of Nagaland

The councils of Sendenyu Rengma Naga tribe resolved that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023 is a direct act of discrimination and discouragement to the efforts of the true custodian of the forest-land as it will enable arbitrary diversion by the Central Government without obtaining prior consent from village councils and locale district authority.

They maintained that as per the current amendment and provision of the Act, the whole of Nagaland and its forest falls under the 100- km of the international boundary giving the Central government arbitrary power for diversion.  Therefore, they have appealed all the fellow Naga tribes’ village councils across the State to take this issue as a matter of great urgency and imminent crisis such that the Act could be rejected by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, and the rights bestowed by our ancestors do not go in vain in the name of so-called national importance and security.

The Sendenyu community supported the concerns expressed by the Nagaland Community Conservation Area Forum in their press release which is quintessential to the protection and welfare of the people and ecological security of the land. It further condemns the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, because for such a major amendment no consultative process was undertaken to understand the nuances and intricacies of land rights and forest issues of the people in various parts of India and North East. Hence without due process of consultation with all concerned stakeholders, such an amendment to an existing Act is unconstitutional, undemocratic and unacceptable, it stated.

Read more: NCCAF says Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023 challenges land and forest rights of Nagas

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