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.