FCA ACT 2023 (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     25th May 2024        

Context: Recently, the Union environment ministry's Shillong regional office sent a notice to the special additional chief secretary of Assam, alleging diversion of forest land without proper clearance under the Forest Conservation Amendment Act 2023 for constructing a police commando battalion camp.

Forest Conservation Amendment Act 2023

  • Exempted Categories of Land: The Act exempts some types of land from the Act, including forest land along a railway line or a public road maintained by the government.
  • Assignment/Leasing of Foreign Land: The Act extends the prior approval requirement for assigning forest land to all entities, including government-owned ones. The approval must be subject to terms and conditions prescribed by the central government.
  • Land Under the Purview of the Act: It defines forest land as either land that is notified as a forest under the IFA, 1927 or any other law, or land that is notified as a forest on or after Oct 25, 1980, in a government record.
  • Permitted Activities in Forest Land: The Act restricts de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purposes, but the central government may approve such use with conditions.

Important Sections

  • Section 3A of the Forest Conservation Act: It  states that violating or abetting the violation of Section 2 is punishable by up to 15 days of simple imprisonment. 
  • Section 3B(1): It says that if a government department or authority commits an offense, the head of the department or those directly in charge and responsible for the authority’s conduct at the time of the offense shall be deemed guilty and liable for prosecution.
  • Rule 15(3) of the Van (Samrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Rules 2023: It allows the central government to authorise an Assistant Inspector General or higher-ranking officer to initiate legal proceedings and file complaints against offenses committed under the Act.
  • Section 2 (b) of the forest (conservation) act 1980: It qualifies as an activity relating to conservation of forests.”