The hornets’ nests in the Forest Amendment Bill – Analysing the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 | 28 July 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

What's the article about?

  • It talks about the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023.


  • GS3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims


  • Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023.
  • Various provisions of this bill are considered bad for environmental conservation in India by environmentalists and experts.
  • In this article, the writers analyse these provisions.


What is the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023?

  • The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 is a proposed amendment to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 in India.
  • The objective of the bill is to amend the existing law to protect India's forest land from unauthorised use for non-forestry purposes.

What are the problematic areas in this bill?

  • Diluted the process of diverting forest land for other use: The original law i.e. the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 has protectionist stance which made forest clearances time-consuming and costly to obtain. But this bill diluted this process by alternating many provisions.
  • Narrowed definition of forests under the act: The bill will effectively restrict the application of the landmark Godavarman judgement of 1996. This judgement had extended the scope of the definition of forest given in the 1980 Act. The present Amendment restricts the Forest Conservation Act to only legally notified forests and forests recorded in government records on or after October 25, 1980. This change could potentially impact around 28% of India’s forest cover.
  • Removed the need for forest clearances for security-related infrastructure up to 100 km of the international borders. Due to this provision, some of India’s most fragile ecosystems, which includes globally recognised biodiversity hotspots such as the forests of northeastern India and high-altitude Himalayan forests and meadows, may get permanently damaged.
  • The Bill introduces exemptions for construction projects such as zoos, safari parks, and ecotourism facilities.
  • The Bill also grants unrestricted powers to the Union government to specify ‘any desired use’ beyond those specified in the original or amended Act. Such provisions raise legitimate concerns about the potential exploitation of forest resources without adequate environmental scrutiny.
  • Absence of reference to other relevant forest laws such as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest-dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. As a consequence of this, the exclusion and ease of diversion of forest areas will mean that forest people’s institutions no longer need to be consulted.

Way Forward:

  • The system of forest clearances under the FCA (1980) may have been flawed, but this Bill does little to rectify these deficiencies. Instead, it just excludes certain privileged sectors from its ambit.
  • When democracy’s gears grind a little too slowly, it is better to fix them than to dismantle them. These systems provide an essential check to assess the impact of projects which change land use and to mitigate the impacts resulting from environmental destruction.
  • Thus, the Union Government must address these legitimate concerns raised by the environmentalists, common people and the experts.

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Download the Samajho App

Join 5 lakh+ students in downloading PDF Notes for 2000+ Topics relevant for UPSC Civil Services Exam. &nbsp Samajho Android App: Samajho iOS App: &nbsp Samajho IAS Youtube Channel (300K+ Subscribers):