Indian Forest Act
28th Mar, 2019
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finalised the first draft of the comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA).
Major highlights of the Draft:
- The idea behind this legislation is to facilitate increase of forest cover from about 24% now to 33% (a stated directive of government policy).
- Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act
- The amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture
- “Village forests”, according to the proposed Act, may be forestland or wasteland.
- It will be the property of the government and would be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management Committee or Gram Sabha.
- The legislation has proposed a forest development cess of up to 10% of the assessed value of mining products removed from forests, and water used for irrigation or in industries.
- This amount would be deposited in a special fund and used “exclusively for reforestation; forest protection and other ancillary purposes connected with tree planting, forest development and conservation.
- The amendment also introduces a new category of forests — production forest. These will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.
- The amendments specifically deal with the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA).
- If the state government, after consultation with the central government, feels that the rights under FRA will hamper conservation efforts, then the state “may commute such rights by paying such persons a sum of money in lieu thereof, or grant of land to maintain the social organisation of the forest dwelling communities or alternatively set out some other forest tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purpose of such forest dwellers.
Indian Forest Act, 1927
- The act sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife.
- It also aimed to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.
- It also defined the procedure to be followed for declaring an area as Reserved Forest, Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
- The act has detailed definition of what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.