AMENDMENTS TO THE FOREST (CONSERVATION) ACT, 1980
What is in news : Opposition is mounting against the proposed amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, with environmentalists and activists arguing that it will lead to further degradation of forests, especially in ecologically sensitive areas such as the Western Ghats.
- Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) published the proposed amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act recently and invited objections and suggestions from the state government as well as the general public within 15 days
- Why the amendment : To make it easier to divert forest for non-forest use.
- Will change this ambiguity as this often results in a lot of resentment and resistance from the private entities. The forest clearances usually take several years which result in a delay in infrastructural development.
- Private land in forest areas : Considering any private area as forest would restrict the right of an individual to use his/her own land for any non-forestry activity. Many a time, the proposed change in land use is not considered by the government even under the provisions of the Act. Even if the same is allowed, the owner has to provide equivalent non-forest land and other compensatory levies, for use of his own land for intended non-forestry purpose.
- This has further led to the development of a tendency to keep most private land devoid of vegetation even the land has scope for planting activities, a consultation paper on the proposed amendments said. It also speaks of strong resentment in the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, etc. over the right of way.
- The Western Ghats already has many non-forest activities and many wildlife corridors have already been cut off. If you are amending existing Acts on top of this in the name of development, forest areas will reduce further. Without requiring permission, you are handing over the advantage to those who want to open more forest areas and this will lead to more conflicts