Bamboo grown in non-forest areas will be exempted from requiring a felling or transit permit after the Cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Indian Forest Act 1927, sources said. The amendment to Section 2(7) of the Act will “encourage bamboo plantation by farmers, which will contribute to doubling farmers’ income by 2022,” a source said.
The Section in question includes bamboo, along with “skumps, brush-wood and canes”, within the ambit of “tree”. “Although taxonomically a grass, bamboo is at present treated as a tree for the purpose of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. It, therefore, requires transit permit under Section 41 of the Act even if it is grown on private land,” a source said.
The government’s move will provide the “desired equilibrium” for raising farmers’ income, as also protecting the environment by maintaining the area under forests, the source said. India has the largest area under bamboo cultivation and is the second richest in terms of bamboo genetic resources after China.
According to the source, India’s massive potential was not utilised all these years to increase the country’s share in the global bamboo market. “This is due to problems faced by cultivators — such as restrictive regulatory regime, requirement of permission for felling, transit and processing, export restrictions, royalty and transit fee on the products, etc,” the source said. “There were constraints on the forward linkages as well, like restriction on setting of the processing units.”
As a result, the source said, India is currently importing timber and allied products such as pulp, paper and furniture, etc. “The amendment approved today will allow free movement of bamboo and ensure that production and consumption centres are seamlessly integrated,” the source said. “This will generate the demand for raw material leading to planting of bamboo trees on non-forest land, provide employment and encourage growth of small and medium industries in the villages and smaller towns also, and reduce our dependence on imports.”
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