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Govt frees bamboo from shackles of 90-year-old law

DH News Service, New Delhi, Nov 23 2017, 0:59 IST
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927,

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927,

The Centre on Wednesday approved an amendment to a 90-year-old law aiming to boost bamboo cultivation so that it becomes a remunerative livelihood option for thousands of farmers in rural India.

The biggest problem with bamboo cultivation is that since it is classified as tree under the law, its transport requires a government permit, even if it is grown on private land.

In 2011, following an advisory from the Union Environment Ministry, some of the states declared bamboo as a "minor forest produce", easing the regulatory restrictions a bit.

For instance, the states lifted transit and felling regime for bamboo within their boundary giving partial relief to the farmers, But its inter-state movement still needs a permit.

This has been identified as a major impediment for the cultivation of bamboo by farmers on private land, limiting the scope of agro-forestry.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, doing away with the need to obtain a "transit permit" for felling and inter-state movement of bamboos grown outside the forest area, sources told DH.

The amendment, once passed by Parliament, would allow for the free movement of bamboo, ensuring seamless integration of the production and consumption centres.

The move is likely to generate fresh demand for the raw material leading to planting of bamboo trees on non-forest land, employment and encouragement of growth of small and medium industries in the villages and smaller towns.

As the government seeks to double the farmers' income by 2022, the relaxation of bamboo cultivation is likely to provide an additional livelihood option to the farmers.

India has the largest area under bamboo in the world and is the second richest country after China in terms of bamboo genetic resource.

But over the years the full potential of the sector has not been realised due to regulatory problems like the need to have permission for felling, transit and processing, export restrictions and imposition of royalty and transit fee on the products.

As a result India is currently importing timber and allied products such as pulp, paper and furniture.

Muli bamboo export

The government has now relaxed some of the rules to tap the export market. Moreover, export of Muli Bamboo has been moved from prohibited to free category till March 2019.

The wood-based industry guidelines have also been recently amended, which has removed the bottleneck for setting up of saw mills using bamboo and other similar species.

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