Consultation paper on proposed amendments in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980

In the present context all Government Forest lands (whether notified or not) and area recorded as forest in any government record come under the ambit of the Act. Besides, the lands bearing vegetation irrespective of ownership and classification also attract the provisions of the Act, if same are considered forest based on some locally defined criteria. Identification of such land is subjective and arbitrary to some extent. This leads to ambiguity and has been observed to be resulted into lot of resentment and resistance particularly from private individuals and organizations. Considering any private area as forest, would restrict the right of an individual to use his/her own land for any non-forestry activity. Many a times the proposed change in the land use is not considered by Government even under the provisions of the Act. Even if the same is allowed, the owner has to provide equivalent non-forest land and other compensatory levies, for use of his own land for intended non-forestry purpose. This has further lead to the development of a tendency to keep most of the private lands devoid of vegetation even the land has scope for planting activities. In view of this, it is felt extremely necessary to define the scope of application of the Act in an objective manner.