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New forest bill soon to tame timber smugglers

New forest bill soon to tame timber smugglers
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Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is all set to introduce a new Telangana State Forest Bill 2019 in the ensuing budget session of the State AssemblyAccording to the State Forest Department SFD sources, the new bill is likely to be tabled on February 22 It is intended to bring in a comprehensive Forest Conservation Act by repealing the existing Andhra Pradesh Forest Act APFA

Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is all set to introduce a new Telangana State Forest Bill -2019 in the ensuing budget session of the State Assembly.According to the State Forest Department (SFD) sources, the new bill is likely to be tabled on February 22. It is intended to bring in a comprehensive Forest Conservation Act by repealing the existing Andhra Pradesh Forest Act (APFA).

A senior forest official said a marathon meeting was held on the contours of the proposed bill. "The Chief Minister wanted a new law for forest conservation to ensure that it acts as a deterrent to encroachment of forest lands, felling of trees and illegal transportation of the forest wealth," he added.The existing act provides for about one year of punishment in case of those illegally felling trees in the forest areas.

If someone is a habitual or repeated offender, then, the magistrate can double the punishment term. Thus, the existing act provides a maximum of about three years jail term for those illegally felling trees and smuggling the forest wealth. However, in the proposed bill, the jail term for the first offence is proposed to be three years. In case of repeated or habitual offenders, the magistrate can award a jail term up to seven years.

That apart, the new bill also proposes a stringent punishment in case of encroachment of forest lands, illegal tapping and smuggling of forest resources.The new bill also will give a special attention to ensure that the conservation efforts of the State government are not scuttled in any manner.

Once passed, the SFD officials feel that the TSFB-2019 will stand as a model for forest conservation efforts for other States also, he added However, there is a Forest Conservation Act (FCA) passed by the Centre which is in force. Hence, once, the TSFB-2019 is passed by the State Assembly, the same will be sent to the Centre for its approval. The new bill will come into force after the Central government gives its clearance, he added.

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