Bihar Government bans Tree-Felling
The Bihar Government recently announced ban on felling of trees in different cities of Bihar, citing increasing pollution as well as a fatal heatwave in the state as reason for the ban.
Background: Bihar Government has taken this decision as most cities of Bihar are ranked in list of World’s most polluted cities which includes- Patna (7th position), Muzaffarpur (13th position), Gaya (18th position) and Bhagalpur. Also, currently Bihar does not have any Tree Protection Act active, due to which people who privately own a tree in state are cutting it indiscriminately.
Note: The current order against banning tree felling was passed under Forest Conservation Act (FCA),1980. This new scheme is valid only for State Government owned properties and not for people who privately own a tree.
With this new initiative Bihar Government has put a hold on tree harvesting for at least government held projects.
Now for undertaking any development project (like road or highway tenders) if anybody now wants to remove a tree would have to translocate/shift the project or the trees to some other place. Engineers have also been asked not to cut trees while building/expanding roads.
All permissions granted to cut trees for development works, have become null and void. Trees on private land, however, can be felled in the absence of a tree-protection Act in Bihar.
The state government could also have taken this decision as a reaction to indiscriminate felling of big, old trees in Patna during last few years for construction of roads and buildings. According to official data, on Patna’s Bailey Road over 2200 trees have been chopped in last 2.5 years.
The state’s forest department also expressed its displeasure over filling roots of trees with concrete on roads in various towns for the sake of development.
Government Vision: Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar has repeatedly announced his government commitment to increase state green cover to 17%. As of date Bihar has been able to increase its green cover from 7% to 15% under the Green Mission.
What is Forest Conservation Act, 1980?
It is an Act of the Parliament of India that was enacted for providing a higher level of protection to forests and to regulate diversion of forest lands for non forestry purposes.
As per the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 Prior permission/approval of the Central Government is essential for De-reservation/ Diversion of forest land for for non-forestry purposes.
This is given on the condition that user agency will deposit required amount to undertake compensatory afforestation for mitigate negative impact of forest land diversion.
The act extends to whole of India except state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).