<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s (MoEF&CC) proposed amendments in the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927, that will allow bamboo grown on non-forest areas to be felled and transported without permits, sources said. MoEF&CC has received various representations to free bamboo on private lands from the permit process, but experts said that this move may be open to misuse as it does not involve Gram Sabhas in the permit process.The amendment of the Act’s Section 2(7) effectively means that bamboo will be no longer considered a tree in non-forest areas, as it is currently defined, thus exempting its harvest without permissions. Sources said that the decision was taken to push for bamboo plantation on private lands and ease regulatory restrictions on inter-state movement of bamboo.Bamboo grown on forest areas though, will continue to be covered under the ambit of Forest Conservation Act, 1980, thus requiring felling and transit permissions.The proposed amendment to ease bamboo harvesting on private land has been pushed ahead even as the the entire Indian Forest Act itself is being overhauled. Last year, MoEF&CC had set up an expert panel to rework the Act and sources privy to developments said that the process is in the drafting stage.The amendments also comes in the backdrop of letters that MoEF&CC wrote to states, urging them to free bamboo grown on private lands from the regulatory regime. In May this year, Director General of Forest Siddhanta Das, wrote one such letter, pointing out that states can exempt bamboo on non-forest areas using Section 41 of the IFA.”Many states have raised the issue that since bamboo is defined as a tree, it attracts the provisions of the felling and transit regulations of respective states and hence bamboo needs to be excluded from the definition of tree…I would like to reiterate once again to exempt all bamboo growing on non-forest area from transit regime using powers granted to states,” Das said. DNA has reviewed a copy of this letter.Das had also mentioned in this letter that the ministry had received suggestions from many quarters seeking exemption of felling and transit permits for bamboo grown on private lands. Das and Environment Secretary CK Mishra were not available for comment.Delhi-based environmental lawyer Sanjay Upadhyay said that this amendment leaves open scope for misuse. “Do we have the mechanism to identify whether the bamboo is from forest or non-forest areas. It is regressive step in the sense that is liable to be misused if Gram Sabhas are not made the nodal body for providing adequate safeguards to protect the resource.”

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Cabinet approves proposal to harvest bamboo on private lands