Dismissing concerns by environmentalists and conservation experts, the government passed the politically convenient Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2006 that essentially hands over forests to forest dwellers.
Politicians, especially the communists, say that transferring forests as entitlement to forest dwelling communities give them security, access to minor forest produce, and a stake in presentation of natural spaces. The bill gives the forest dwellers occupational and usage rights but not ownership transfer or usage transfer rights. It will also allow those dwellers right to mine forest wood, fuel wood, stones, and water-bodies and cart them outside forests using hand-carts and cycles.
Environmentalists fear that such expansive rights are dangerous because lax enforcement and implementation will allow transfer of usage and ownership to land and mineral mafias largely controlled by politicians and the tribal dwellers of forests will be unable to resist such takeovers. Further, the blatant right to live in sanctuaries with endangered species and raise destructive elements such as cattle will impact their habitat and create a conflict between humans and such animals.
Federal Tribal Affairs Minister P.R. Kyndiah dismisses these concerns saying that conservationists are more interested to save tigers than humans. Kyndiah has apparently lost his tribal roots and heritage because it is tribal folk-lore than links the mutual co-existence of tigers and forests. Tribals in India say that forests disappear when the tigers disappear. Hence, it is surprising that he should make such a comment and it is not clear how tribals may benefit from a deal that will largely dispossess them of their land through the legislative creation of value and making them susceptible to mafia.