Indian Forest Act 1927 Current Affairs - 2019
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The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finalised the first draft of the comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The amendments provide definitions to important terms that were missing from the law.
Features of the Amendments
- The draft amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture”.
- Under the proposed amendment Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.”
- The amendments shift the focus of the Indian Forest Act from laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it to conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments.
- The amendment provides that if the state government, after consultation with the central government, feels that the rights under Forest Rights Act will hamper conservation efforts, then the state may commute such rights by providing compensation to maintain the social organisation of the forest-dwelling communities or alternatively set out some other forest tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purpose of such forest dwellers.
- The amendment introduces a new category of forests namely production forests which will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.
The amendments have been proposed based on the inputs of a core committee Inspector General of Forests (Forest Policy) Noyal Thomas.
The Sentinelese Tribe are indigenous people inhabiting North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal in India and are considered one of the world’s last uncontacted peoples. They are considered as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
Laws to Safeguard the interests of Sentinelese Tribe
Laws promulgated for the protection of interests of Sentinelese Tribe are:
- A &N Islands (PAT) Regulation 1956.
- Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
- Restrictions under Foreigner (Restricted Area) Orders, 1963.
- Visa Manual Conditions/Passport Act 1920.
- Indian Forest Act, 1927.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Other Steps to safeguard their interests
The major steps taken towards protection of their interests include:
- The entire North Sentinel Island along with 5 km coastal sea from high water mark is notified as a tribal reserve.
- The Sentinelese are still in isolation practising primordial hunting and gathering way of life. The Government has adopted an ‘eyes-on and hands-off’ practice to protect and safeguard the Sentinelese tribe.
- A protocol for the circumnavigation of the North Sentinel Island has been notified. The ships and aircraft of Coast Guard and boats of Marine Police make sorties around North Sentinel to keep surveillance.
- The coastal sea up to a fixed extent of 1 Km to 5 Km abutting the tribal territory has also been notified as a tribal reserve so that marine resources like fish, turtle etc are available exclusively for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
The Sentinelese tribe is at the verge of extinction. The 2011 census estimates their numbers at a mere 50.
Tags: A &N Islands (PAT) Regulation 1956 • eyes-on and hands-off • Indian Forest Act 1927 • Restrictions under Foreigner (Restricted Area) Orders 1963 • Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 • Sentinelese • Visa Manual Conditions/Passport Act 1920 • Wildlife Protection Act 1972