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The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 Explained

The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023

  • A Parliamentary committee has given a go-ahead to the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 without objections.
  • The bill proposes amendments to the Forest Conservation Act 1980 and aims to exempt certain forest lands from legal protection.
  • The bill is expected to be tabled during the monsoon session of the Parliament.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

  1. Applicability of the Act:
  • The bill makes the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 applicable to certain types of land.
  • This includes land notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or in government records after the 1980 Act came into effect.
  • Land converted to non-forest use before December 12, 1996, will not be subject to the Act.
  1. Exemptions from the Act:
  • The bill exempts certain types of land from the purview of the Act.
  • This includes land within 100 km of India’s border needed for national security projects, small roadside amenities, and public roads leading to a habitation.
  1. Assignment of Forest Land:
  • Currently, the state government requires prior approval of the central government to assign forest land to a private entity.
  • The bill extends this requirement to all entities and allows the assignment to be made on terms specified by the central government.
  1. Permissible Activities:
  • The Act specifies certain activities that can be carried out in forests, such as establishing check posts, fencing, and bridges.
  • The bill additionally allows running zoos, safaris, and eco-tourism facilities.

Key Issues and Analysis:

  1. Exclusion of Forest Land:
  • The bill excludes two categories of land from the Act’s purview, potentially going against a 1996 Supreme Court judgment on preventing deforestation.
  • This includes land recorded as forest before October 25, 1980, but not notified as a forest, and land converted from forest-use to non-forest-use before December 12, 1996.
  1. Impact on North-Eastern States:
  • Exempting land near border areas for national security projects may adversely impact forest cover and wildlife in the north-eastern states.
  1. Potential Adverse Effects:
  • The blanket exemption for projects like zoos, eco-tourism facilities, and reconnaissance surveys may adversely affect forest land and wildlife.

Key takeaways for competitive examinations

  • Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change: Shri Bhupender Yadav
  • Director General of Forests: Shri Chandra Prakash Goyal