In an act of solidarity, members of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), Lucknow have written to the President, the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Agricultural Minister of India to roll back the three central farm laws introduced this year.
They have stated that it is not only the farmers but the forest dwelling communities that comprises twenty to thirty crore Indians who will be adversely affected as well since they indulge in farming activities for sustenance. Farming and forests are the primary source of their livelihood and thus it is the Government’s responsibility and duty to safeguard the community’s interests and not solely feed the growing corporate greed.
The AIUFWP members represent the anxiety of crores of forest dwellers who fear the control of the massive corporate sector over their means of livelihood. They have also submitted via this memorandum that agriculture is a subject that is covered under the State List and not the Union List, rendering the laws passed by the Parliament unconstitutional.
They further express their grief over how farmer unions were not consulted by the Central Government before introducing laws that directly affect them. They drew parallels with the situation in the forests of India, where in the name of development, the Government is giving sanctions to projects that ultimately is resulting in loss of lives and displacement of a large number of forest dwellers, without prior consultation with them. They explicitly state that the Forest Rights Act which was enacted in 2006 has yet not been efficiently implemented in the country.
They humbly state that the farmers’ struggle is no different from theirs, both communities are trying to fight for their land which is a medium of their livelihoods. Under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the Right to Livelihood is an extension of Right to Life. In light of this, the All India Union of Forest Working People have prayed for:
· The repeal of all three farm legislations of 2020 and enactment for fresh laws
· The implementation of the Forest Rights Act and addressing the forest rights claims of the community inhabiting the widespread forests of India
· The strengthening of laws related to land rights in India
· Enforcement of laws regarding the rights of agriculturists and labourers that have been pending for 40 years
· Focus on the agenda of increasing accessibility to land rights including forest lands
· Specifically focus on the rights of women in the field of agriculture and forests who are responsible for major contributions
· Strengthen the labour rights in a way that assists and promotes the interests of the working class
· Passing of laws that facilitate community forestry and farming in the wake of increasing environmental crisis
The entire memorandum may be read here: