The proposed amendments to the forest act
18 OCTOBER 2021 | Vibhav peri | environmental LAW
The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change has proposed roughly three amendments to the Forest Conservation Act, mainly to to make the process of facilitating oil and gas exploration in forests:
- Exemptions: The amendment grants exemptions to many situations where the Forest Conservation Act would otherwise have been applicable. Some of these are certain private lands and government lands (based on official land usage), strip-lands alongside railways and highways (upon the request of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the Ministry of Railways), Exploration and Survey activities for mines, and Revenue Lands, like plantations and areas of supposed ‘afforestation’. Areas near the National Borders of India are also exempted, for ‘strategic purposes’.
- Centralisation: The second major amendment is the centralisation of the process of taking cognisance of violations of the Forest Conservation Act. Earlier, violations would be acknowledged by various bodies at the State Level. However, the new amendment makes it such that both the States and the Centre can now acknowledge violations, and the Centre can also investigate as to whether the State Government is involved in the violation or not.
- Preservation: The third major amendment is that forests of ‘high ecological value’ will be set aside for preservation for a specific period and will be used at a later time. The specifics of this amendment, such as the criterion for a forest to fall into this category, have not been mentioned.
Image Credits: Self, Tadoba National Park