TN may be deprived of benefits of 'Bamboo Mission' -min
Last year, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of tree, thereby dispensing with the requirement of felling/transit permit for its economic use. Bamboo, though, taxonomically a grass, was legally defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Before this amendment, the felling and transit of bamboo grown on forest as well non-forest land attracted the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA, 1927). This was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on non-forest land which has been done away with the recent amendment to the Act.
However, Tamil Nadu will not be able to make use of the changed law that would have allowed hundreds of forest-dwellers and tribals in the state to raise bamboo as a means of livelihood. This is because, TN is still governed by the Tamil Nadu Forest Act 1882 and can only do so if it amends this legislation to reclassify bamboo amendments grass. The Union Finance Minister has allocated a sum of Rs 1,290 crore in the latest to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner. However, TN will not be able to use nearly Rs 50 crore guaranteed under this mission fund announced in the Union budget unless it makes changes in Tamil Nadu Forest Act.
In addition to this, Act TN government needs to amend Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 which gives the forest-dwelling tribes the right of ownership over minor forest produce. But the definition of minor forest produce excludes bamboo. Further, the Hill Areas (Preservation of Trees) Act 1955 classifies bamboo a tree and can be cut only if it grows to a certain height and girth. Thus, the state government needs to look into all three Acts and make amendment to exclude bamboo from the category of trees.