Use dictionary meaning of ‘forest’, Supreme Court tells Central govt.

Syllabus: GS-III

Subject: Environment, Ecology and Disaster Management

Topic: Forest Conservation

Issue: Forest Conservation

Context: Supreme Court’s order in pleas challenging the 2023 amendments to the Forest Conservation Act,1980.

Directions by the court:

Forest Conservation Act(FCA),1980

Enacted to regulate the extraction of forest resources and prevention of diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes.

Key Provisions:

  • The Act prohibits any activity that changes the nature of forest land.
  • Prior Approval: The central government’s approval is mandatory for the diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes by any state.
  • Establishes a Forest Advisory Committee to advise the central government on forest conservation and related matters.
  • However, the act allows minor forest produce collection and calls for compensatory afforestation in case of diversion.

T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad case 1996

  • Initially the protection under FCA,1980 was accorded only to the forests recorded by the government (centre and states).
  • The Supreme court in this judgement, expanded it to the dictionary meaning of forest.

The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023

  • Act to apply only to land recorded as forest by govt on or after 1980.
  • Exemptions:
    • Forest lands within 100km of international border and to be used for strategic projects of national importance.
    • 5-10 hectares of land for security and defence projects.
  • Provision to encourage the practice of cultivating plantations.
  • Preamble amended underlining India’s commitment to achieve the target of Net Zero by 2070.
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