The word forest defined literally by oxford dictionary means "A sizable area
primarily covered in trees and vegetation". Forests are necessary for survival
of living organisms is a well-known fact. The main function of the forest is to
create oxygen as a by-product through the process of photosynthesis as well as
absorbing carbon-di-CO2) which is one of the most pertinent pollutants in the
Forests also help in the prevention of soil erosion and soil pollution along
with providing us with different forest products that are essential to our
living. So, to sum up, without forests our eco-system will cave in and that is
why forest conversation is necessary and this issue should be given utmost
importance. For this purpose, Indian parliament made a law titled "Forest
The act's purpose, according to its provisions, is to address matters related
to, incidental to, or connected to the conservation of forests. But recent
trends suggest that people, be it public or authorities concerned as well as the
government have been ignorant towards forest conservation.
The law seems to exist only on the paper and not on the ground. Therefore, an
analysis of the mentioned act and finding out about the different obstacle that
hinder smooth application of the act becomes as necessary as forest
As human society progressed, their needs and wants in order to survive and
prosper also increased leading to more dependence on forest resources. On
British arrival in India, British rulers started trading goods and realized that
India has huge amount of forest resources which would be profitable for them.
Hence, when they gradually settled here, they started taking control over
forests and its resources.
Their needs dictated their policies. And that is when forest management first
emerged as British rulers utilized forest goods such as timber for the purpose
of expansion of roads, railways, ship-building etc., they wanted more control
over it. The then British government for the first time enacted Indian Forest
Act 1865 which specified any area that is covered by tree as "Forest".
Later Indian Forest Act,1927 was passed by British government as a combined
effort to control and manage forests but the problem with the act was that it
contained provisions related to declaring a forest as "Reserved Forest
" and "Village Forest
", regulation of forests and
its products, revenue generation and fines and punishment in case of breach of
these laws. It ignored the most crucial point of maintaining a forest i.e forest
When the perspective of people and authorities changed and they realized that
maintaining stability between nature and their needs is essential, the Forest
(Conservation) Act,1980 was passed by the Indian parliament with preservation of
Indian forests and discouraging deforestation as its raison d'etre.
The Forest (Conservation) Act was passed by Indian Parliament in the year 1980.
The objective of the act is to look into the matters related to conservation of
forest and balancing the ecology.
The act also intends to promote afforestation
and other objectives that are as following:
- Preservation of forests along with its Flaura and Fauna and maintaining
the real identity of the forest.
- Discouraging deforestation that leads to problems such as soil erosion
further leading to land deterioration.
- Stabilizing Forest biodiversity.
- Prevention of conversion of forest areas into non-forest areas.
Section 1 of the act deals with its title and scope. It states that, with the
exception of Jammu and Kashmir, the act is applicable throughout all of India.
It is known that even after article 370 was revoked from the state of Jammu &
Kashmir making all laws of India applicable there, Forest (Conservation) Act is
not a part of the laws being applied in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Section 2 of the act puts restriction on the state governments and other
authorities, preventing them to make laws on the matters such as revoking of the
legal status of being a forest given to a land, using of forest land for
non-forest purposes, giving forest land or any part of it on leasehold to any
Section 3 deals with the setting up of an Advisory Committee to grant approval
to matters stated in section 2 of the act if needed or any matter related to
conservation of forests.
Section 3A & 3B
Section 3A and 3B was added later in 1988 through an amendment. 3A deals with
the punishments for whoever breaches the law or abets breaching of these laws
which is simple imprisonment of a stated term and that can be extended up to 15
days. While 3B deals with the offences committed by government offices and other
It states that any government entity shall be held liable if they violate the
law however, if the entity is able to prove that the offence was committed
without its knowledge or the entity performed due care and caution to prevent
the happening of the offence, it will not be held guilty. The other
non-governmental entities do not enjoy this privilege.
Section 4 deals with the rule-making powers. According to it, the central
government has the authority to implement the laws outlined in the act after
publishing a notice of them in the official gazette. This section authorizes
parliament to perform medication or form any rule under the act.
Section 5 of the act deals with the repeal of Forest (Conservation) Ordinance,
Amendments And Its Criticism
The Forest (Conservation) Act,1980 have been amended thrice since it got
enacted. The first amendment was made in the year 1988 where the definition of
non-forest purposes was expanded to include tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil-bearing
plants,horticultural crops and medicinal plants.
Second amendment was made in the year 1996 on the basis of Supreme Court
judgement in the Godavarman Thirumulpad versus Union of India case where the
word Forest was expanded to include:
- All areas mentioned as "Forest" in any government record.
- All areas that come under dictionary meaning of the word forest.
- All areas that are defined as forest by an expert committee of the
Supreme Court of India.
Third and the most recent amendment happened in 2021, put forward by ministry
of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
The amendment made the following changes in the act:
- That the deemed forests listed by state governments prior to 1996 will
still be regarded as forest land.
- The plantations done alongside roads will no longer be considered as
- It prevents a specific group of infrastructure project developers from
asking the Center for permission to use forest land for purposes other than
forestry. The projects include those related to national security, border
infrastructure, and land that the Ministry of Road Transport or the Railways
purchased before 1980.
- Additionally, it will impose strict guidelines for the preservation of
forests by toughening penalties for violations and maintaining "pristine
forests" in which no non-forestry activity will ever be permitted.
Now the recent amendments attracted few criticisms. one of them was related
to changes made in the definition of forest. By establishing a list of
exceptions to the Act, it seemed to imply what does not constitute a forest.
These exceptions included forests in border regions where strategic projects
must be built, private property where plantations must be established, and
forest land that was purchased for the construction of railroads and highways
Second more emphasis is placed on developing supportive regulatory frameworks
for establishing plantations. It contends that the FCA's provisions won't apply
to these plantations. However, it does not specify what these plantations should
be like or where they can be located.
Third rather than controlling deforestation, these exceptions facilitate it. The
amendments aim to de-regulate some decisions that result in deforestation, such
as the use of extended oil drilling for gas and oil extraction. which the
ministry asserts meets the requirements for a legal exception because it is
However, there aren't enough ecological studies to back this up. Fourth the Gram
Sabha's approval is a necessary step in the forest clearance process. The
cancellation of the application of this progressive legal provision directly
results from the creation of exceptions to the requirement of forest clearances.
Therefore, examining the deregulatory strategy used to change India's
environmental laws is necessary.
Challenges In Its Application
Numerous rivers and lakes continue to be overflowing with industrial waste and
sewage in spite of numerous environmental laws and Acts. The state of the air is
deteriorating daily. Despite the implementation of various laws, there hasn't
been any afforestation or wildlife protection. To solve these issues, people
must be reminded of the value of protecting our health, the earth's resources,
and the environment as a whole.
The proper implementation of environmental legislation is necessary to improve
the situation. This can be done by setting up a pertinent organization that
gathers the necessary data, processes it, and then gives it to the law
enforcement organization. Anybody who violates a law or rule, whether they are
an individual or an organization, must be punished in accordance with the legal
The government has implemented a number of legislative and administrative
measures. In addition to this, other initiatives have been made to split the
cost of an industry-taken anti-pollution measure in order to avoid
state-sponsored costly and protracted legal battles, or we can say that it is
done so that every citizen must consider the environment before playing with it
and must take care of it.
However, the improper implementation of policies is the reason why we are unable
to accomplish these goals. It is challenging for the enforcement agencies to
impose regulatory standards on the businesses and other polluters.
The Followings Are Some Of The Issues That The Enforcement Agencies Encounter:
- Regulatory agencies are understaffed compared to how quickly industries
- Lack of the technical expertise needed to enforce the rules.
- A rising level of corruption.
- Financial resources are insufficient.
- lack of a committed workforce.
- Defiance of the new.
The act includes a number of provisions that aim to reduce deforestation and
promote reforestation of non-forested areas. According to the National Forest
Policy of 1980, no area of a state may be designated as a non-reserve without
prior approval from the Central Government.
The 1988 amendment to the act made it illegal for anyone other than the
government to lease the forest. This government action contributes to an average
30% increase in forest cover.
But even after this the followings are acting as a major hindrance in smooth
application of this act:
Indian Judicial View
- The act has centralized power at the top by transferring power from the
hands of the state to the central government
- Because it violates the human rights of underprivileged native people,
the act also fails to win public support.
- The poor community's extremely low participation makes this act
- Tribal groups and people who live in forests have extensive knowledge of
the resources found there, but their work is never recognized.
By considering various Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed under Articles
32 and 226 of the Constitution. Additionally, the judiciary has made a
significant contribution to protecting our environment and the forests. While
considering the PILs, the Supreme Court and the High Courts issued a number of
significant rulings regarding the preservation of the environment and forests.
Tarun Bharat Singh v/s Union Of India (1993)
In this case, a non-profit organization approached the Supreme Court through a
PIL submitted in accordance with Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. The
petition was filed to stop the illegal mining that was taking place in the Alwar
District's reserved area. The state government had issued hundreds of mining
licenses despite the fact that the area was protected by the Act. The Court
ruled that whenever a region is designated as a protected forest, the Forest
(Conservation) Act applies, and as a result, the State government is no longer
permitted to conduct any non-forest activity within the reserved region without
first obtaining permission from the Central government.
State Of MP v/s Krishnadas Tikaram (1994)
In this instance, a 20-year mining lease for limestone in the forest area was
granted to the respondents in the year 1966. Following its expiration in 1986,
the respondents requested a renewal from the State government. The state
legislature approved the decision to extend the lease by another 20 years. This
order was canceled by the Forest Department. The Supreme Court of India heard a
challenge to this cancellation. The Court determined that the state cannot issue
or renew the license in accordance with Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation)
Act without the Central government's prior approval. As a result, the order
cancellation was done correctly.
Krishnadevi Malchand Kamathia v/s Bombay Environmental Action (2011)
In this case, to begin the contempt procedure against the appellants for failing
to obey the court's orders, the District Collector submitted an application. The
newly built bund was to be removed in accordance with court orders so that
seawater could enter and safeguard the mangrove forests. The order made an
effort to stop the appellants from engaging in any behavior that would endanger
the mangrove forests. The appellants are authorized to produce salt at the
The mangrove forests in the area prevent the solar evaporation of seawater for
the purpose of producing salt, according to the Supreme Court. The mangrove
forests fall under the category of CRZ-I because of their high ecological value
and ecological sensitivity (Coastal Regulatory Zone-I). The production of salt
is forbidden, per the Coastal Area Classification and Development Regulations,
1991, which classifies the coastal regulatory zone.
In order to maintain the ecological balance, forests are crucial to the health
of our ecosystem. Deforestation, however, is occurring at a startling rate
across the nation, which is harming our environment and causing ecological
imbalances. By reducing the rate of deforestation, the Forest (Conservation)
Act, 1980 aims to protect the forests. On October 25, 1980, the Forest
(Conservation) Act of 1980 went into effect. In order to safeguard our nation's
forests, this Act was put into effect.
The maintenance of the earth's water cycle and entire ecosystem depends on
forests, which are an essential component of our natural environment. This law
was put into effect to protect our nation's forests and to preserve the ecology.
Additionally, this Act aims to boost the growth of our nation's forests by
regenerating the forests through tree planting.
In order to keep our land productive and nourishing for future generations, we
must ensure that the conservation of the forest is given the utmost attention
and effort. If deforestation continues at the same rate, many of the common
species of life will soon become extinct. In addition to this, scarce resources
like wood, oxygen, and others will disappear very quickly.
Therefore, "saving the forests" ought to be a very popular concept and a
marketing idea right now. For the Forest Conservation Act to operate
effectively, all parties involved, including the government, forest authorities,
and general public, must cooperate.