A legislation to amend the Indian Forest Act to exempt felling and transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the state permit, was tabled in the Lok Sabha today. The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017 — which would omit bamboos growing in non-forest areas from the definition of trees — was introduced by Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan even as BJD leader B Mahtab raised concerns and opposed the legislation. Last month, the government had come out with an ordinance to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927 in this regard. This bill would replace this ordinance. Prior to issuance of the ordinance, the definition of tree in the Act included palm, bamboo, brushwood and cane.
Before the bill was introduced in the House, Mahtab opposed it saying the government wants to do away with the requirement of seeking permission from states for transportation of bamboo. “Whom are you protecting?… You are protecting the interests of traders,” Mahtab claimed as he opposed the Bill. In response, Vardhan said the apprehensions of the member are not right and the bill would help the farmers.
Emphasising that the bill was one of the major reform moves, Vardhan said, there “is nothing anti-people, it is farmer friendly” and would help the economy in a big way. Vardhan introduced the bill as Congress and some other Left members were raising slogans against the Prime Minister for his remarks against Manmohan Singh during a Gujarat poll rally.
According to the bill’s Statement of Objects and Reasons, section 2 of the Act would be amended to omit the word bamboos from the definition of tree, in order to exempt bamboos grown in non-forest area from the requirement of permit for felling or transit under the law. This would “encourage bamboo plantation by farmers resulting in the enhancement of their income from agricultural fields,” it said.
As per the statement, bamboo, though taxonomically a grass, is treated as tree under the Act and attracts the requirement of permit for transit. Many states have exempted felling and transit of various species of bamboos within the states, the inter-state movement of bamboos require permit. “The farmers are facing hardships in getting the permits for felling and transit of bamboos within the state and also for outside the state, which has been identified as major impediment of the cultivation of bamboos by farmers on their land”, it noted.