Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 passes in Lok Sabha, despite concern raised by environmentalists


New Delhi: After raising concerns by environmentalists and ecologists the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 passed in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, which seeks to amend the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

The Bill was passed in the House even as environmentalists, recently wrote to Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, expressing concerns about the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, and seeking more time to submit objections to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Bill.

According to the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, an area of land can be exempted from the legal framework for a quick accomplishment of any political- and security- related projects that are of national interest.

Key Highlights of the Bill

The Bill amends the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to make it applicable to certain types of land. These include land notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or in government records after the 1980 Act came into effect. The Act will not be applicable for land converted to non-forest use before December 12, 1996.

It also exempts certain types of land from the purview of the Act. These include land within 100 km of India’s border needed for national security projects, small roadside amenities, and public roads leading to a habitation.

The state government requires prior approval of the central government to assign any forest land to a private entity. The Bill extends this to all entities, and allows the assignment to be made on terms and conditions specified by the central government.

The Act specifies some activities that can be carried out in forests, such as establishing check posts, fencing, and bridges. The Bill also allows the running zoos, safaris and eco-tourism facilities

This year during the Budget Session, the Forest Conservation (Amendment Bill), 2023 was introduced in Parliament.

A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) approved the report on the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 on July 11.

This means that the amendments in the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 have been approved. When the Central government had circulated the proposal note on the Bill in October 2021 for public comments, it garnered around 5,000 responses.

Recently, around 400 ecologists have written to Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav and urged him to not tabled the bill in Parliament without additional consultations with domain experts.

In the letter, they have sought more time to submit objections to the joint committee of Parliament. Public feedback on the proposed legislation ended on May 18.


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