Forest Conservation Act, 1980 – A Summary

Published on 29/05/2012

First Update 14/06/2021

Forest Conservation Act, 1980 – A Summary

By Dr. Yashpal Singh, Chairman, The Wealthy Waste School India

Also See Procedure for Forest Clearances under the Forest Conservation Act 1980

The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 is a Central Act of Parliament with a view to provide for the conservation of forest and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. The act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Section 2 of the act makes a provision of a prior approval of the Central Government necessary before a State Government or any other authority issues direction for dereservation of reserved forests (which have been reserved under the Indian Forest Act 1927), use of forest land for non – forest purpose, assigning forest land by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by the government and clear felling of naturally grown trees. The term “forest land” mentioned in Section 2 of the Act refers to reserved forest, protected forest or any area recorded as forest in the government records. Lands which are notified under section4 of the Indian Forest Act would also come within the purview of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. The Supreme Court has also held that “forest” as understood in the dictionary sense would also be included under “forest land”. The term “forest” shall not be applicable to the plantation raised on private land except notified private forest. Tree falling in such plantation would however be governed by state acts and rules. The term “tree” will have the same meaning as defined in section 2 of the Indian Forest Act 1927.

Appeals against orders made under section 2 of the forest conservation act on or after the commencement of the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 lie with the National Green Tribunal. The procedures along with formats for obtaining clearances under the act have been prescribed under the Forest Conservation Rules 2003 and 2004 which also has constituted a forest advisory committee and regional empowered committee. The regional empowered committee shall decide the proposal involving diversion of forest land upto 40 ha. Proposals involving forest land of more than 40 ha. and all proposals relating to mining and encroachments irrespective of the area of forest land involved, shall be forwarded by the concerned State Government / Union Territory along its recommendations to the MoEF Government of India. Non – compliance of provisions of section 2 of the act shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a period which may extend upto 15 days.

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