Kohima, 11 August (MTNews): Kezekevi Thehouba (KTB), a non-political organization composed of a few like-minded Angami elders advocating for the welfare of Nagas, has called for a special session of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) to oppose the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023 (FCA).
According to KTB, a meeting was held on 8 August to discuss the FCA, which was pushed through by the BJP-majority in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha while other parties were preoccupied with the ongoing Manipur crisis.
KTB highlighted that the Forest Act permits the use of forest land within 100-kms along the international border for the construction of strategic linear projects of national importance or security. The organization claimed that this provision would impact all northeastern states, including Nagaland.
KTB is of the opinion that the implementation of the FCA will result in “disastrous consequences” for Nagaland, given that nearly all of its geographical area falls under the purview of this Act. It stated that the Act would empower corporate giants to exploit forests under the pretext of development, which goes against tribal interests.
KTB on oil palm cultivation
Addressing the contentious policy of promoting large-scale oil palm cultivation, KTB expressed concerns about the loss of soil fertility and the depletion of water sources, among other detrimental effects. The organization also said that the state government will find itself on the right side of history by boldly reversing its reported decision to start a monoculture plantation of palm oil in Nagaland.
Despite these concerns, KTB holds hope due to Article 371A of the Indian Constitution and anticipates that the Nagaland Government will promptly convene a special Assembly session to assess the applicability of the amendment.
KTB appealed to Naga leaders to pause and critically evaluate the undeniable reality and the questionable manner in which the Act was rushed through Parliament. Expressing concern for the security and well-being of children, KTB called upon ministers, MLAs, officials, public and church leaders, NGOs, tribal hohos, and the student-community to voice their opposition to the FCA.
Additionally, KTB unveiled plans to organize a seminar in Kohima featuring resource persons of national and international repute. The goal of the seminar is to educate the public about this issue, and further details will be shared in due course.