Lok Sabha

December 20, 2017

Aparupa Poddar speaks on The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017

Aparupa Poddar speaks on The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017


Sir, I rise to speak on the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill has replaced the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated by the President on November 23, 2017.

Sir, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 which is the Parent Act for the above Bill seeks to consolidate laws relating to forest and transit of forest-produce. As is being discussed, the present Bill seeks to amend the definition of “Trees” by omitting the word “bamboo” from its definition under Section 2, sub-clause 7. The persons producing Bamboo would no longer need State permits during transit and selling of bamboo in other States.

Sir, there exist conflicts on the status of Bamboo under different laws. Our colonial era law, The Indian Forest Act, 1927 classified Bamboo as Tree and Fallen Bamboo as Timber. This was contrary to the scientific classification of bamboo as “Grass.” Had it been considered Grass, bamboo would be exempted from many restrictions in cutting and transportation. Although we have a Forest Rights Act, 2006 which classifies bamboo as non-timber, States have largely applied restrictions on bamboo transit in line with the 1927 Act.

This brings me to another issue. Sir, most states in the country have their own set of laws governing forests. I would like to mention here that this Amendment does not affect State laws and Rules. Thus, in all practicalities, we may end up seeing no change on how Bamboo is transported and sold. I wish to ask the Government whether States have been given the freedom to decide whether permits for bamboo movement are required? Or are the states expected to follow the amendment being moved, if passed by the Houses? There is a need for simultaneous changes in the laws of all the States to avoid any future uncertainties. This would reduce the burden on farmers for whom the main source of livelihood is bamboo production.

Sir, according to my understanding of the text of the Bill, the amendment pertains only to the definition of Trees. However, according to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the amendment is in order to exempt bamboos grown on non-forest lands. I would like to ask the Minister why is the Amendment not drafted to that extent to shed light on the aspect of de-regulation of bamboo for “Non-Forest Lands.” Is this a patent drafting error from the side of the Government or an attempt to make unseen changes in law? I request the Government to make changes to clarify this position. Also, Sir, most bamboo production occurs within Forest Lands. How are we supporting to cause of helping our farmers if they would still need to through the tiring processes of availing permits. The Government should ponder over a solution on the same. The solutions should be in line with environmental considerations and farmers’ welfare.

Sir, bamboo has over 1500 documented uses varying from light bulbs to aircraft manufacturing. India has about 30% of bamboo resources. However, our market share in global market remains roughly about 4%. Sir, the bamboo sector employees 10 million people which has the capacity to employ 50-129 million people. Sir, the need is to harness the domestic and global potential of bamboo use to increase the income of our farmers.

Sir, lastly, I would like to reiterate the disapproval which many other Parliamentarians would second. It is related to the process of enacting Bills. Sir, through you, I urge this government to control its desire of issuing ordinances time and again. This has the effect of bypassing the Parliament’s law making powers. Sir, the ordinances are becoming an alternate tool of legislations under the present government. The rule of ordinances being an exceptional measure must apply to seemingly innocuous situations as well.

Thank you.