Proposed FCA changes to offset SC’s forest order

Context: The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, introduced in the Indian Parliament, proposes changes that will undermine the landmark Godavarman judgment of 1996, which has provided the basis for forest conservation in India for over 27 years.

Proposed changes to Forest Conservation Act

  • The proposed amendments seek to limit the applicability of the Forest Conservation Act, potentially allowing non-forest activities on over one-third of Aravalis in Gurgaon and Faridabad districts. 
  • It would also exempt certain land parcels from prior approval requirements for non-forest use, including linear rail and road networks and land parcels not recorded as forest in government records.
  • The proposal suggests exempting specific types of lands from the Act in order to expedite the implementation of national strategic and security-related projects.
  • It also empowers the central government to specify, by order, the terms and conditions subject to which any survey, such as, reconnaissance, prospecting, investigation or exploration including seismic survey, shall not be treated as non-forest purpose.

Godavarman Judgement 1996

  • Supreme Court passed an interim order directing that tree-felling and non-forestry activity in forests across the country be stopped. 
  • The path-breaking order re-defined the meaning of forests and extended protection to all areas with natural forests irrespective of their ownership. 
  • It laid down that ‘forests’ will be understood by its dictionary meaning, and the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980, shall apply to all thickly wooded areas. 
  • States were directed to form expert committees to identify forests as defined and file reports. 

Forest Conservation Act 1980

  • It was passed in India in 1980 to protect forests and wildlife. 
  • The act regulates the use of forest land for non-forestry purposes, such as mining, industry, and construction. 
  • Any diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes requires prior approval from the central government. 
  • The act establishes a National Committee for the Protection of Forests and Wildlife to advise the government on forest conservation and wildlife protection. 
  • The act provides guidelines for compensatory afforestation, meaning that if any forest land is diverted for non-forestry purposes, an equivalent area of land should be reforested. 

Forest in India

  • Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun, an organization under the Ministry carries out the assessment of forest cover of the country biennially since 1987 and the findings are published in India State of Forest Report (ISFR). 
  • The forest cover assessment is a wall – to – wall  mapping exercise based on remote sensing supported by intensive ground verification and field data from National Forest Inventory. 
  • As per latest ISFR 2021, the total forest cover of the country is 7,13,789 square kilometre which is 21.71% of the geographical area of the country. 
  • The current assessment shows that the total forest cover of the country has increased by 1540 square kilometre, tree cover has increased by 721 square kilometre and total forest and tree cover has increased by 2261 square kilometre at the national level as compared to the previous assessment i.e. ISFR 2019.

Efforts to increase forest cover

National Mission for Green India (GIM)

  • To increase the forest cover in the country, afforestation programmes are taken up under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Ministry such as National Mission for a Green India (GIM).
  • It is one of the eight Missions outlined under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. 
  • It aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s forest cover and responding to Climate Change by undertaking plantation activities in the forest and non- forest areas. 

Nagar Van Yojana (NVY) 

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change is implementing NVY since the year 2020 which envisages developing 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatika in the country during the period of 2020-21 to 2024-25. 
  • Its objective is to significantly enhance the tree outside forests and green cover, enhancement of biodiversity and ecological benefits to the urban and peri-urban areas apart from improving quality of life of city dwellers with the funds under the National Fund of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

Afforestation activities are also taken up under various programmes/funding sources such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Compensatory Afforestation Funds under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). In addition, plantations are also done by various departments, Non-Government Organizations, Civil Society, Corporate bodies etc.

UPSC Prelims 2016 PYQ:

Which of the following best describes/ describe the aim of ‘Green India Mission’ of the Government of India?

1. Incorporating environmental benefits and costs into the Union and State

Budgets thereby implementing the ‘green accounting’.

2. Launching the second green revolution to enhance agricultural output so as to ensure food security to one and all in the future.

3. Restoring and enhancing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans. (c)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar