Karnataka to declassify deemed forests
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environemnt
- Recently, Karnataka Forest Minister announced that the state government would soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.
- The issue of deemed forests is a contentious one in Karnataka, with legislators often alleging that large amounts of agriculture and non-forest land are “unscientifically” classified as such.
Important value additions
- While the concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, the Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act.
- “The word ‘forest’ must be understood according to its dictionary meaning.
- According to the Supreme Court, this description covers all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise under Forest Conservation Act.
- “The term ‘forest land’ occurring in Section 2 of the Act will not only include ‘forest’ as understood in the dictionary sense, but also any areas recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the ownership.
- The provisions enacted in the Forest Conservation Act 1980 for the conservation of forest and related matters must apply clearly to all forests.