From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Mains level : Read the attached story
The government has proposed absolving agencies involved in national security projects and border infrastructure projects from obtaining prior forest clearance from the Centre as part of amendments to the existing Forest Conservation Act (FCA).
About Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
- The FCA is the principal legislation that regulates deforestation in the country.
- It prohibits the felling of forests for any “non-forestry” use without prior clearance by the central government.
- The clearance process includes seeking consent from local forest rights-holders and from wildlife authorities.
- The Centre is empowered to reject such requests or allow it with legally binding conditions.
- In a landmark decision in 1996, the Supreme Court had expanded the coverage of FCA to all areas that satisfied the dictionary definition of a forest; earlier, only lands specifically notified as forests were protected by the enforcement of the FCA.
What is the proposed amendment?
- The proposed amendment is part of a larger rationalizing of existing forest laws for infrastructure projects.
- The act was regressively interpreted over the right of way of railways, highways.
- As of today a landholding agency (Rail, NHAI, PWD, etc) is required to take approval under the Act as well as pay stipulated compensatory levies.
- They are required to pay Net Present Value (NPV), Compensatory Afforestation (CA), etc. for use of such land which was originally been acquired for non-forest purposes.
- The Environment Ministry has proposed provisions for penal compensation to make good for the damages already done to trees in forest land.
- The document also proposes removing zoos, safaris, Forest Training infrastructures from the definition of “non-forestry” activities.
- The current definition restricts the way money collected as part of compensatory cess can be spent towards forest conservation purposes.
Previous attempts made
- Previous attempts to amend acts linked to forest laws have been controversial.
- There was a plan to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927, that deals with the rights of forest dwellers, in an attempt to address contemporary challenges to the country’s forests.
- The draft law had been sent to key forest officers in the States for soliciting comments and objections.
- It drew flak from activists as well as tribal welfare organizations.
- The government withdrew the draft and has said that a newer updated version was on the anvil.
Try answering this PYQ
Consider the following statements:
- As per recent amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, forest dwellers have the right to fell the bamboos grown on forest areas.
- As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, bamboo is a minor forest produce.
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 allows ownership of minor forest produce to forest dwellers.
Which of the statements given above is / are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3