Indian Forest Act 2019
The Indian Forest Act, 2019 is envisaged as an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and is an attempt to address contemporary challenges to India’s forests. The draft law has been sent to key forest officers in the States for soliciting comments and objections until June 7, says an accompanying note by the Union Environment Ministry.
About the Indian Forest Act 2019
- Under the draft, the definition of ‘forest’ includes any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves. It also covers any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.
- The ‘production forest’, as introduced in the draft, will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production for a specified period
- “Village forests”, according to the proposed Act, may be forestland or wasteland, which is the property of the government and would be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management Committee or Gram Sabha.
- Amendment proposed to provide indemnity to Forest-officer using arms etc, to prevent the forest offence. Forest-officer not below the rank of a Ranger shall have power to hold an inquiry into forest offences and shall have the powers to search or issue a search warrant under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Any Forest-officer not below the rank of a Forester may, at any time enter and inspect any land within his area of jurisdiction
- In effect, the aim is to strengthen the forest bureaucracy in terms of deciding on how to decide on [title claims] over forest land, what parts to declare [off-limits] for conservation, checking encroachments.