The Lok Sabha, on Wednesday, passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which will omit bamboo from the definition of trees and allow felling of bamboo grown in non-forest areas and transported without permits.The amendment will replace the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, that was promulgated on November 23. The easing of transit process will allow for smooth interstate movement of bamboo, the Centre had said.The Bill was passed following nearly two hours of discussion which saw Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan explain the need for the amendment to the British-era Indian Forest Act, 1927 and parry apprehensions on its potential misuse.The chief contentions against the amendment were voiced by MPs from Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Revolutionary Socialist Party’s NK Premachandran and TRS MP Konda Vishveshwar Reddy.The MPs asked why the central government had hastily promulgated an ordinance on the issue when Parliament was scheduled to convene in December.They also raised issues regarding safeguards to check pilferage of bamboo on forest land. “If bamboo has been taken outside the purview of trees, how will it continue to be forest produce. My apprehension is that this move will be misused on forest land,” Premachandran said.
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