2017 Forest Bill
2017 Forest Bill

A bill that will put an end to the need for getting permission to transport bamboo was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday amid protests from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Bhartruhari Mahtab.  As Environment and Forest Minister Harsh Vardhan stood up to introduce The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017, Mahtab raised objections.

The bill would do away with the inter-state permit for transportation of bamboo.  The Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 was promulgated on November 23, 2017.  It amends the Indian Forest Act, 1927.  Under the Act, the definition of tree includes palms, bamboos, stumps, brush-wood and canes.  The Ordinance amends this definition to remove the word bamboos.  

Following this, bamboo growing in non-forest areas will be waived off the requirement of permission for its felling or transportation for economic use.   The Centre promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of tree, thereby dispensing with the requirement of felling/transit permit for its economic use.

Before this amendment, the felling and transit of bamboo grown on forest as well non-forest land attracted the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA, 1927). At that time, the government contended that the amendment and the resultant change in classification of bamboo grown in non-forest areas will usher in much needed and far-reaching reforms in the bamboo sector.

He said that while on the one hand, the legal and regulatory hardships being faced by farmers and private individuals will be removed and on the other hand, it will create a viable option for cultivation in 12.6 million hectares of cultivable waste land. The measure was intended to go a long way in enhancing the agricultural income of farmers and tribals, especially in North-East and Central India.

The amendment will encourage farmers and other individuals to take up plantation/ block plantation of suitable bamboo species on degraded land, in addition to plantation on agricultural land and other private lands under agroforestry mission.