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Manish Tewari writes to Om Birla over forest bill sent to joint panel

In his letter to Birla, Tewari raised the issue of the "unusual manner" in which the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 was dealt with in the House on March 29, 2023

Congress MP Manish Tewari

Congress MP Manish Tewari

Press Trust of India New Delhi

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Congress MP Manish Tewari wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday over the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, being sent to a joint committee and demanded that it be examined by the standing committee.
Tewari's letter to Birla comes a day after senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh lodged a protest with Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar over the bill being sent to a joint committee and demanded that it be examined by the standing committee, headed by Ramesh.
Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav introduced the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The Bill was then sent to a joint committee of both the Houses for discussion.
The Bill seeks to bring clarity to the country's forest conservation law and exempt certain categories of land from its purview to fast-track strategic and security-related projects of national importance.
In his letter to Birla, Tewari raised the issue of the "unusual manner" in which the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 was dealt with in the House on March 29, 2023.
"The Bill was ostensibly referred to a 'Joint Committee of both the Houses'. However, it is very evident that the subject matter of the Bill falls within the remit and belongs to the domain of the Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests, and Climate Change," the MP from Anandpur Sahib said.
The standing committee already has members from both Houses and the reference of the Bill to a joint committee essentially leads to the former's process being rendered redundant, Tewari claimed.
"By referring the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 to a joint committee, the Union Government is deliberately by-passing the standing committee which would have examined the Bill in detail with the full participation of all stakeholders," he said in his letter to Birla.
"Under these circumstances, it is respectfully urged that proper parliamentary rules, procedures, and conventions be kindly observed and the standing committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change is mandated to examine the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023," he said.
While proposing to send the bill to a joint committee, Yadav announced the constitution of the committee comprising 19 members from Lok Sabha, 10 from Rajya Sabha and 2 nominated by the Speaker.
The Lok Sabha members of the committee are -- Rajendra Agrawal, Dhal Singh Bisen, Raju Bista, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Tapir Gao, Ajay Tamta, Suresh Kumar Kashyap, Gomati Sai, Sudarshan Bhagat, Pallab Lochan Das, Diya Kumari, T.R. Baalu, Agatha K. Sangma, Sajda Ahmed, Kotagiri Sridhar, Rajendra Dhedya Gavit, Alok Kumar Suman, Mahesh Sahoo and Girish Chandra.
The Rajya Sabha members are: Ashok Bajpai, Anil Baluni, Samir Oraon and CM Ramesh (all BJP), Jawhar Sircar (AITC), Prashanta Nanda (BJD), Hishey Lachungpa (SDF), Birendra Prasad Baishya (AGP) in the committee besides two members to be nominated by the chairman.
Two members are to be nominated by the Speaker.
In a letter to Dhankhar, Ramesh said thta sending the bill to the joint committee of both Houses means "devaluation and denigration" of the status and functions of the standing committee.
Noting that this standing committee is one of the eight of Rajya Sabha, Ramesh sought Dhankhar's urgent intervention to prevent its "complete emasculation".
"Standing committees are primarily to examine Bills. But they can do so only if Bills are allowed to be referred to them for scrutiny. By referring the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill,2023 to a joint committee, the Union government is deliberately by-passing the standing committee which would have subjected the legislation to detailed examination with the full participation of all stakeholders," Ramesh had said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 30 2023 | 4:09 PM IST

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