What is Bamboo ? A tree or Grass ? According to the Indian Forest Act, Bamboo has been considered as a tree. But this act has been an obstacle when its usage and felling was talked of, which is a major tribal livelihood option. Timber, a major forest produce is barred from utilization if not by the forest department.
To encourage Bamboo cultivation in the non forest areas, Center has promulgated an ordinance. The Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 pushes bamboo cultivation to increase the green cover of the country and also to augment the scopes of the tribal population living in the premises of the forest areas.
The ordinance expels Bamboo from the category of Tree if grown in non forested areas. According to the Indian Forest Act, Bamboo was categorized as Tree, whose felling and selling is prohibited by laws. The Indian Forest Act, differentiates the forest products as major and minor Forest produces. The major forest produce is illegal to fell or sell or to be used by anyone in the country without prior permission.
Bamboo, though, taxonomically a grass, was legally defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Before the Cabinet on November 22, 2017 approved the promulgation of the Ordinance in this regard, provisions of the Indian Forest Act was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers in the non-forest land.
Minister of Environment Dr Harsh Vardhan said with the removal of legal and regulatory hardships, it will create a viable option for the cultivation of 12.6 million hectares of cultivable wasteland. The measure will go a long way in enhancing the agricultural income of farmers and tribals, especially in North-East and Central India. He said bamboo grown in the forest areas shall continue to be governed by the provisions of Indian Forest Act.
The ownership of the forest products goes to the government if the products falls in the major forest produce category. On the contrary, the produce can be utilized or sold by the forest dwellers if the product falls under the category of minor forest produce. Minor Forest produce includes Bamboo shoots, tendu leaves, tamarind etc which are economical support for the tribal population.
Over the years, Bamboo have been categorized as timber and hence has been a subject of forest govt. department. This move can be turned as an ecological wealth for their sustainable living.