President Ram Nath Kovind today cleared an ordinance amending the Indian Forest Act, omitting bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the definition of trees. This would help in exempting it from requiring permits for felling or transportation. Before the ordinance was issued, the definition of tree in the Act included palm, bamboo, brushwood and cane.
The brief ordinance, aimed at increasing bamboo plantations, states that clause seven in section 2 of the Act would omit the word bamboo. “The government, in a landmark initiative, has 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 or transit permit for its economic use,” Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said.
Though taxonomically a grass, bamboo was legally defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Before this amendment, the felling and transit of bamboo grown on forest as well non-forest land attracted provisions of the Act.
“This was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on non-forest land,” an official statement said. The move, it is hoped, will contribute to achieving the objective of doubling the farmers’ incomes by 2022. Bamboo grows abundantly in areas outside forests with an estimated growing stock of 10.20 million tonnes and about 20 million people are involved in bamboo related activities.
One tonne of bamboo provides 350 man days of employment and an enabling environment for the cultivation of bamboo will
help in creation of job opportunities in the country. The current demand of bamboo in India is estimated at 28 million tonnes. Though India has 19 per cent share of world’s area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in the sector is only 6 per cent, the statement said.
At present, India imports timber and allied products such as pulp, paper and furniture. “In 2015, India imported about 18.01 million cubic meters of timber and allied products worth Rs 43,000 crore. The amendment will help in addressing some of these issues,
besides meeting the demand from domestic production,” it said.
According to the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the bamboo business in the North-East region alone has a potential of about Rs 5,000 crore in the next 10 years.