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‘Karnataka to soon declassify forest’

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    24th Nov, 2020

Karnataka has planned to soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

Context

Karnataka has planned to soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

About

What are deemed forests?

  • A deemed forest fits “dictionary meaning” of a forest, “irrespective of ownership''.
  • In other words, these are thickly wooded areas recommended to be taken over by the government for preservation as forests but not notified.

Re-definition of forest: SC

  • A Supreme Court judgement in 1996 re-defined the meaning of forests to include all areas with natural forests irrespective of their ownership as well as those that came under the ‘dictionary’ meaning of forest.
  • The Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act.
    • “The word ‘forest’ must be understood according to its dictionary meaning. This description covers all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of Section 2 (1) of the Forest Conservation Act,” the Supreme Court said in its December 12, 1996 order.
    • “The term ‘forest land’ occurring in Section 2 will not only include ‘forest’ as understood in the dictionary sense, but also any areas recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the ownership. The provisions enacted in the Forest Conservation Act 1980 for the conservation of forest and the matters connected therewith must apply clearly to all forest so understood irrespective of the ownership or classification thereof,”.

How much land in Karnataka is protected under the Forest Act?

  • Reports by expert committees in 1997 and 2002 identified 43.18 lakh hectares of forest land for conservation in Karnataka, which included 33.23 lakh hectares notified forest area as per forest records and 9.94 lakh hectares ‘deemed forests’.
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