Bamboo is not a tree: Parliament passes an amendment to change 90-year-old law

New Delhi, DHNS: Parliament on Wednesday gave its stamp of approval to modify a 90-year-old law that restricts cultivation of bamboo as a livelihood option to the farmers and tribes living in the vicinity of forest areas.

The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill permits felling and transit of bamboo grown in non-forest areas, which was not possible in the past.

However, bamboo grown on forest lands would continue to be classified as a tree and would be guided by the existing legal restrictions.

The bill was passed by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha, amidst protests by the Congress, Biju Janta Dal and the Samajwadi Party members, who staged a walkout. The legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 20.

The law does away with the need to obtain a "transit permit" for felling and inter-state movement of bamboos grown outside the forest area. It would allow 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 the planting of bamboo trees on non-forest land, provide employment and encourage the growth of small and medium industries in the villages and smaller towns.

The Opposition alleged the new law would favour the industrialists. Terming the bill as a "very misleading one", Congress member Jairam Ramesh said it would work against the interests of the tribals in the long run.

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