The Union Government has proposed the draft law called as Indian Forest Act,2019.The act is seen as an amendment to the Indian Forest Act,1927.The draft law proposes to restore higher management powers and a degree of veto power with the forest bureaucracy.
The act says that (a)forest-officer not below the rank of a Ranger shall have power to hold an inquiry into forest offences and shall have the powers to search or issue a search warrant (b)Any Forest-officer not below the rank of a Forester may,at any time enter and inspect any land within his area of jurisdiction and (c)It provides protection to forest officers using arms to prevent forest-related offences.
According to the proposed act,village forests are defined as forestland or wasteland,which is the property of the government.It would be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management Committee or Gram Sabha.
The legislation also proposes a forest development cess of up to 10% of the assessed value on (a)mining products removed from forests and (b)water used for irrigation or in industries.This amount would be deposited in a special fund and used exclusively for reforestation,forest protection and other ancillary purposes connected with tree planting, forest development and conservation
However,experts say that the proposed law would lead to conflicts during implementation, particularly when seen in the context of the Forest Rights Act,2006.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act,2006 seeks to recognize forest rights of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been occupying and are dependent on the forest land for generations.