1 April 2023 1:31 PM GMT
On Wednesday, the central government introduced the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, which seeks to amend certain provisions under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.The Bill acknowledges that the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 has presented new challenges in terms of ecological, social, and environmental developments. These include mitigating the effects of climate change,...
On Wednesday, the central government introduced the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, which seeks to amend certain provisions under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
The Bill acknowledges that the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 has presented new challenges in terms of ecological, social, and environmental developments. These include mitigating the effects of climate change, reaching national Net Zero Emission targets by 2070, and maintaining or enhancing forest carbon stocks at both national and international levels.
Objectives and Reasons of the Bill
The Bill states that Before the 1996 Supreme Court judgement in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India and others, the Forest (Conservation) Act only applied to notified forest lands, not revenue forest areas and non-forestry use in the revenue forest areas was allowed through permissions granted by the Government. After the judgment, the Act was applied to recorded forest areas, including those already used for non-forestry purposes. This caused confusion about the Act's applicability to plantations on private and government non-forest lands. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the Act's applicability to different types of lands.
The Bill specifies that there is also a need to “fast track the strategic and security related projects” of national importance so as to ensure development of vital security infrastructures, especially along the international border areas such as Line of Actual Control, Line of Control and Left Wing Extremism affected areas. Similarly, small establishments, habitations on the side of public roads and railways also need to be facilitated by providing them access and connectivity to main arterial roads and other public utilities.
Salient Features of the Amendment Bill:
1. The Bill amends the short title of the Act to be called the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, 1980.
2. It clarifies the scope of applicability of the Act upon various lands.
3. It exempt certain categories of lands from the purview of the Act which includes the following:
3.1 Such forest land situated alongside a rail line or a public road maintained by the Government, which provides access to a habitation, or to a rail, and roadside amenity up to a maximum size of 0.10 hectare.
3.2 The forest land as is situated within a distance of one hundred kilometres along international borders or Line of Control or Line of Actual Control, as the case may be, proposed to be used for construction of strategic linear project of national importance and concerning national security.
3.3 Land up to ten hectares, proposed to be used for construction of security related infrastructure.
3.4 Land as is proposed to be used for construction of defence related project or a camp for paramilitary forces or public utility projects, as may be specified by the Central Government, the extent of which does not exceed five hectares in a Left Wing Extremism affected area as may be notified by the Central Government.
4. The bill explains that The exemption provided shall be subject to such terms and conditions, including the conditions of planting trees to compensate for felling of trees undertaken on the lands, as the Central Government may, by guidelines, specify.
5. The Central Government can specify the terms and conditions under which certain surveys, including seismic surveys, are not considered non-forest purposes.
6. Under the Bill, the Central Government is authorized to give directions to any relevant authority within the Central Government, State Government, or Union Territory Administration, as well as any recognized organization, entity, or body under the State or Central Government, as deemed necessary for the effective implementation of this Act.