THE FOREST CONSERVATION ACT, 1980

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The ancient abode of all living beings including human race were forests. Ancient man worshipped and protected forests as it provided everything for him including food and shelter. By the passage of time the needs of man increased for finding his own space. For making new shelters he started exploiting nature. Deforestation was his prime activity to find space for his buildings and shelter. India being a land blessed with thick dense forests that promote rainfall and fertilized landscapes suitable for cultivation soon faced the threat of deforestation. The woods from the forest were taken in abundant quantity for the making of furniture, paper and for various other purposes only for the satisfaction of selfish needs of man. The deforestation is done under the pretext of development programs that ensures technological and modern life style development. In order to prevent the deforestation and the conservation of remaining forest lands the government of India had enacted The Forest Conservation Act 1980. The main objective of the act is the preservation of forests. For the conservation of forests different provisions are enumerated in the act that has to be followed by the citizens and the Government equally as the responsibility is equal from the part of the government and citizens.

In order for the preservation of forests certain forest areas are declared as reserved forest areas for protecting it from using for any other purpose. A reserved forest or any portion belongs to the reserve forest area cannot be used for any non forest purpose. The act also specifies the non forest purpose. Non forest purpose denotes that forest area cannot be used for the cultivation of tae, coffee, rubber or any other form of cultivation that produce yield used for monetary benefits. Any activity done for the reforestation is specified in the act in section 2. Any work that promotes the growth and preservation can be done without altering the existing condition.

Fencing, construction of bridges, dams, waterholes, trench marks, boundary marks, pipelines, check posts, wireless communications as supporting elements for the conservation and reforestation are permissible even in reserved forest areas according to section 2 of the act. The Central government has the authority to constitute an advisory committee for implementing the provisions mentioned in section 2 of the act. The advisory committee can grant approval for any matter mentioned in section 2 of the act. The grant of approval can be given for any matter that is referred by the Central Government for the conservation of any type of forests.

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Any act done in contravention of the provisions of the act is liable for punishment. Any thing done in contravention of section 2 of the act shall be punishable with simple imprisonment that may extend to a period of fifteen days. Any offence in contravention of section 2 is committed by any authority or any government department is also subject to punishment only if it is proved that the act is done without the knowledge of the department head or the authority.

The Central Government is vested with the power to make rules for the implementation of the provisions in the act. The central Government can frame the rules after making proper official gazette notification. With the prior approval from the Central Government any portion or land including in the reserve forest area can be used for non forest purpose only if any inevitable condition occurs for using the reserve forest area for non forest purpose.

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The Forest Conservation and Protection Act 1980 is a mile stone in the array of laws that provide all possible provisions for the preservation of forest and prevention in deforestation.