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The Meghalaya government on Tuesday began its consultation process on the draft amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

Meghalaya Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, MBK Reddy presided over the consultation meeting at the head office of the Forest Department at Sylvan House conference hall in the presence of divisional forest officer T Wanniang, who is in-charge of East Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi districts.

Officers from other departments and representatives of the Meghalaya Land and Forests Owners Association also attended the meeting. Reddy said that the consultation process would continue and the stakeholders have to submit their views and suggestions through the state forests department within two months.

“Lots of discussions are needed on the draft amendments and the state government will compile all views and suggestions received from various stakeholders and submit the same to the Centre,” he said.

Reddy said that the amendments would not affect privately-owned forest land as well as provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India being applied to the state of Meghalaya.

According to the 2017 report of the Survey of India, the forest cover of Meghalaya was around 76 per cent.

During the course of the discussion, participants especially representatives of the Meghalaya Land Forests Owners Association pointed out that the Supreme Court in its judgment passed recently in connection with the ban on coal mining in Meghalaya has recognized that “private owners of the land as well as community owners have both the surface right as well as sub-soil rights.”

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