20 May 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Taking the Himalayan region as a case, explore and examine the provisions and concerns with regard to the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2023.

(250 Words/15 Marks)


The forest conservation (amendment) Act 2023 amends the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, which was enacted to regulate the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes. The main objective of the new Act is to redefine what a ‘forest’ means in the Indian law.

Key provisions of the forest conservations (amendment) Act 2023 are as follows:

  1. Land to be regulated under the Act:
  2. a) Land notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or under any other law.
  3. b) Land notified as a forest on or after October 25, 1980 in a government record.
  4. Land exempted from regulation:
  5. a) Land situated within 100 km from international borders for construction of a strategic linear projects.
  6. b) Land up to 10 hectares, for constructing security-related infrastructure
  7. c) Land to be used for constructing defence related projects, camps for paramilitary forces, or public utility projects up to 5 hectares in a left-wing extremism affected area
  8. d) The Bill also states that the Act will not apply to land changed from forest use to non-forest use on or before December 12, 1996
  9. Assignment of forest land: Under the original Act, a state government required prior approval of the central government to assign forest land to private entity; the new Act extends the requirement to private as well as public entities.
  10. Activities allowed on the forest land: Certain non-forest purposes allowed such as zoos and safaris, ecotourism facilities, silvicultural operations, surveys with prior approval of the central government.

Various concerns associated with the Bill:

  1. Lands with forest-like characteristics stand excluded if found outside the government records; It goes against the SC judgement in TN Godavarman case, 1996 which privileged dictionary meaning of forests, providing a broader definition.
  2. Exemptions given near the border areas will have negative impacts on the already fragile ecology in these areas.

E.g., Joshimath land subsidence and the Char Dham project.

  1. Allowing construction of infrastructure like zoos, safaris, ecotourism facilities etc. may promote influx of commercial activities within the forests; restricts wildlife habitat; could increase man-animal conflict.

E.g., snow leopard, clouded leopard etc.

  1. Exclusion of certain categories of land may affect tribal rights, especially the Particularly Vulenrable Tribal Groups’ (PVTGs) under FRA.

E.g., Raji and Buksa tribes.


It is important for the government to strike a balance between the intended objectives of the amendments and interests of various stakeholders for inclusive implementation of the Act

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