Indian Forest Act Current Affairs - 2019
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The Lok Sabha passed Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill replaces Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind in November 2017 and amends Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Though, bamboo was taxonomically a grass, it was earlier defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and its felling and transit required permission. It was major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on non-forest land.
The bill omits bamboo (taxonomically a grass) grown in non-forest areas from definition of trees. The omission, thereby exempts it from requiring permits for felling or transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas. With this, bamboo grown in non-forest areas ceases to be tree. It will encourage bamboo plantation by farmers, which will contribute to doubling farmers income by 2022.
Indian Forest Act, 1927
The Act consolidates laws relating to forests, transit of forest-produce and duty to be levied on them. Under it, the definition of tree includes palms, stumps, bamboos, brush-wood, and canes.
Significances of Bill
It will usher in much needed and far-reaching reforms in bamboo sector. It will remove legal and regulatory hardships being faced by farmers and private individuals. It will create viable option for cultivation in 12.6 million hectares of cultivable waste land and in creation of job opportunities in the country.
It will help in enhancing agricultural income of farmers and tribals, especially in north-east and central India. It will encourage farmers to take up plantation or block plantation of suitable bamboo species on degraded land, in addition to plantation on agricultural land and other private lands under agroforestry mission.
It will also enhance supply of raw material to traditional craftsmen of rural India, bamboo based paper and pulp industries, furniture making units, cottage industries, fabric making units, incense stick making units. It will also help to promote major bamboo applications such as wood substitutes and composites like panels, flooring, furniture and bamboo blind.
It will also help industries such as those dealing with food products (bamboo shoots), constructions and housing, bamboo charcoal etc. It will greatly aid success of National Bamboo Mission. It is also in line with objective of doubling farmers income, besides conservation and sustainable development.
Bamboo also has several ecological benefits such as soil-moisture conservation, conserving wildlife habitat, landslide prevention and rehabilitation, enhancing source of bio-mass, besides serving as a substitute for timber.
President Ram Nath Kovind has promulgated an ordinance under Article 123 of Constitute to amend Indian Forest Act, 1927 to encourage bamboo plantation by farmers in private lands.
The ordinance omits bamboo (taxonomically a grass) grown in non-forest areas from definition of trees. The omission, thereby exempts it from requiring permits for felling or transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas.
With this, bamboo grown in non-forest areas ceases to be tree. However, bamboo grown in forest areas continues to be governed by provisions of Indian Forest Act. The amendment to Section 2(7) of Indian Forest Act, 1927 will encourage bamboo plantation by farmers, which will contribute to doubling farmers income by 2022.
India has largest area under bamboo cultivation and is second richest in terms of bamboo genetic resources after China. India has 19% share of world’s area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in sector is only 6%. But, India’s massive potential was not utilised to increase country’s share in global bamboo market. As result, India is currently importing timber and allied products such as pulp, paper and furniture, etc. The amendment will help in addressing some of these issues, besides meeting the demand from domestic production.
Significance of Amendments
By omitting bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of trees, government hoped to promote cultivation of bamboo in non-forest areas to achieve the “twin objectives” of increasing the income of farmers and also increasing the green cover of the country.
The amendment approved will allow free movement of bamboo and ensure that production and consumption centres are seamlessly integrated. This will generate demand for raw material leading to planting of bamboo trees on non-forest land, provide employment and encourage growth of small and medium industries in villages and smaller towns also, and reduce our dependence on imports.