- Prelims: Environment
- Mains – GS 3 (Conservation of Environment)
In News: Karnataka Chief Minister has signed cabinet decision to release 6.5 lakh hectares from the deemed forest classification
- This measure will essentially declassify close to 67 per cent of the land in Karnataka that was otherwise classified as deemed forests
- There is no comprehensive definition for “forests” in India.
- The ambiguity around this term was clarified by the Supreme Court in T N Godavarman Thirumulpad case where it defined “forest” to include any piece of land that resembles the dictionary meaning of forest for the purpose of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
- This case also conceptualized “deemed forests”
- Deemed forests were conceived as areas those has not been notified under the legislation, but are recorded as forests in government records.
- These are lands that have characteristics of forests, irrespective of ownership.
- Once forests are “deemed”, they cannot be de-reserved or utilized for non-forest purposes without prior approval of the Centre.
- Deemed forests, comprising about 1% of India’s forest land
- In Godavarman case the Court ordered the setting up of expert committees in each state to identify deemed forests to remove any ambiguities
- This decision paved the way for the preservation of forest areas in India to be continuously monitored by the Supreme Court, mandating the state governments to obtain clearances for affecting or implementing changes to lands classified as deemed forests.
Source: Indian Express