Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Indian Forest Act, 2019
Mains level: Mechanism for forest conservation in India
- A proposed legislation accords significant powers to India’s forest officers — including the power issue search warrants, enter and investigate lands within their jurisdictions, and to provide indemnity to forest officers using arms to prevent forest-related offences.
Indian Forest Act, 2019
- The Indian Forest Act, 2019 is envisaged as an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
- It is an attempt to address contemporary challenges to India’s forests.
- It proposed to provide indemnity to Forest-officer using arms etc, to prevent the forest offence.
- Forest-officer not below the rank of a Ranger shall have power to hold an inquiry into forest offences and shall have the powers to search or issue a search warrant under the CrPC, 1973.
- Any Forest-officer not below the rank of a Forester may, at any time enter and inspect any land within his area of jurisdiction.
Defining Village forests
- Village forests according to the proposed Act, may be forestland or wasteland, which is the property of the government.
- It would be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management Committee or Gram Sabha.
Issues surrounding this Act
- Independent experts said that the proposed law would lead to conflicts during implementation, particularly when seen in the context of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
- In effect, the aim is to strengthen the forest bureaucracy in terms of deciding on how to decide on [title claims] over forest land, what parts to declare [off-limits] for conservation, checking encroachments, etc.
- In recent times, things have dramatically changed since 1927 with new laws, greater rights accorded to forest dwellers by the Constitution.