Salient Feature of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 – The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is a significant piece of legislation in India aimed at the conservation and management of forests.
Salient Feature of Forest Conservation Act, 1980
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is a significant piece of legislation in India aimed at the conservation and management of forests. Below are the salient features of this Act, presented in a point-wise manner:
Prior Approval: The Act requires that any non-forest activity, such as mining, industrial projects, or infrastructure development, that requires the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes must obtain prior approval from the Central Government.
Central Government Authority: The Act establishes the Central Government as the sole authority responsible for granting or rejecting proposals for forest land diversion.
Criteria for Approval: The Act mandates that the Central Government can approve a diversion only if it is satisfied that the forest land’s use is necessary for a public purpose, and there are no alternatives available that do not involve the use of forest land.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): Proponents of projects seeking forest land diversion must conduct Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to evaluate the potential environmental and ecological impacts of the project.
Compensatory Afforestation: To mitigate the loss of forest cover due to land diversion, the Act requires the proponents of such projects to undertake compensatory afforestation on non-forest land.
Forest Conservation Fund: The Act establishes a Forest Conservation Fund into which the compensatory afforestation payments are made. These funds are used for afforestation and reforestation activities.
Stringent Penalties: The Act prescribes penalties, including imprisonment, for violations of its provisions, such as unauthorized felling of trees in forest areas.
No-Objection Certificate (NOC): The Act requires state governments to issue a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for proposals involving forest land diversion within their respective states.
Role of State Governments: While the Central Government has the ultimate authority, the Act also involves state governments in the approval process, ensuring that their concerns and local knowledge are considered.
Conservation of Biodiversity: The Act emphasizes the conservation of biodiversity and ecological stability, making it essential to minimize the adverse impacts on forests and wildlife.
Public Participation: The Act encourages public participation by allowing for public objections and consultations during the approval process.
Amendment Provisions: The Act provides for its amendment by the central government to adapt to changing environmental and conservation needs.
These salient features of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, collectively aim to strike a balance between developmental needs and the preservation of India’s valuable forest ecosystems. It underscores the importance of sustainable development and the protection of the environment.