Overview of The Indian Forest Act, 1927
The Indian Forest Act of 1927 provides a legal framework for the protection and management of forests, forest produce and timber transit, and duty levied on forest produce and timber. This Act was enacted after repealing the Indian Forest Act, 1878, to consolidate the forest law. The Act is now the umbrella legislation that provides the basic architecture for managing forests in the country. Only Haryana, Punjab, MP, Bengal and Bihar have the Act Implemented, while the rest of the states have their acts to protect forest resources. India’s forest cover is around 22%, but the Government aims to have at least 33% of India’s geographical area under forest and tree cover. Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued a public notice for decriminalising the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Also, the recent changes proposed by the government indicate increasing forest cover, making it harder to access land for infrastructure projects. Earlier, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, too, required the Centre’s permission to use forest land for non-forestry purposes. The Ministry is also reviewing the Indian Forest Act, 1927 to decriminalise minor sections of the law, including carrying timber into the forest, trespassing by cattle, felling or damaging a tree reserved under a special provision of the law, kindling a fire or carrying fire in forest areas. Many changes are varying stages of implementation. Therefore regular updates on the subject and guidance prior to starting any new project or business become necessary to remain compliant with the regulations governing forests, like the recent amendments. The Indian Forest Act 1927 is supplemented with other Acts and policies like
- Indian Forest Policy, 1952
- Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
- National Forest Policy, 1988
Salient Features of The Indian Forest Act, 1927
The Indian Forest Act was enacted to preserve and safeguard the forests in India. The Act makes various provisions for such conservation of forests. The scheme provides for a State Government to constitute any forest lands or wastelands, which are property of the Government over which the Government has proprietary rights, a reserved forest. The Act deals with various subjects related to Forest in its 13 Chapters. In this manner, the Act contemplates the protection of forest land under certain conditions, whether reserved forests, village forests, protected forests or forests of private owners.
Some of the important areas covered under the Act include
- The subject of reserved forests, village forests, and protected forests.
- The power of the Central Government to Impose duty on timber and other forests produced.
- The power of the State Government to make rules to regulate the transit of forest produce under Section 41 or their power to make subsidiary rules related to forests.
- The Forest Officer's powers and duties and the citizen's moral duties to help Forest Officers and Police Officers carry out their duties within the purview of the Act.
Licences and Permissions required by Industries
Licences are not only needed by Forest-based industries like the paper and pulp industry, match wood industry, but timber and sandalwood industry, plywood industries, oil, and biodiesel industry but also for many industries that emit their waste into the environment. Businesses must also comply with regulations like Environment Management Plan and ESG reporting to fulfil their obligations towards the environment and society. Certain licences and permissions are also meant to cover all environment-related legislation made mandatory by the Government. These are the Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate under Air and Water Act and Environment Clearance under the EIA Notification, 2006.
Environmental clearance is required for projects falling in ecologically sensitive areas like
- Religious and historical places.
- Archaeological monuments
- Scenic areas (hills, beaches, coastal areas)
- Estuaries and Gulf areas
- Biosphere reserves, national parks, sanctuaries
- Seismic zones
- Tribal settlements
- Areas of scientific and geological interest
- Defence installations (important due to security reasons, pollution sensitivity)
- Border areas (international)
Documents Required for Environmental Clearance
- Detailed Project Description (including the project's name, location, proposed area breakup, water requirement, waste generation etc.)
- Site/ Layout plan
- Proof of installed machinery
- Proof of Land Ownership
- ID proof of Signatory
- Quality test Report (wherever applicable)
- Proof of mitigation options adopted
- Proof of Electricity and water connection
All pollution control Boards (SPCB/PCC), through the Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate, ensure that no potentially polluting industry is established in any ecologically sensitive zone (ESZ) susceptible to environmental degradation. For instance, industries are not permitted within a one-kilometre radius measured from the demarcated boundary of any protected forest, including the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. To ensure this, the concerned SPCB gives its consent to establish an industry.
Documents required for Consent NOC
- layout design/plan
- Land ownership proof
- process flowchart
- Details of Solid waste, effluent, hazardous wastes that will be generated, and the Plan to treat effluent sewage.
- Pollution Control instruments installed for air and water pollution control.
- Consent fees associated with the category in which the industry falls.
- Details of water required and its availability
- Emission Analysis Reports
Environment Clearance (if applicable)
Application Process for Consent NOC
Submission of Application and Fee
Every manufacturing unit must obtain Consent NOC from their respective State Pollution Control Board by submitting an online form for CTE before establishing the industry and for CTO after setting up the unit but before starting operations. All required documents and the applicable fee must be submitted at this stage.
Document Scrutiny and site inspection Authorities
The appropriate authorities in the Board will scrutinise the application at both stages based on all applicable laws. Before issuing CTO, a site inspection is done by an inspecting official who will be an expert in the field and will be preparing a report based on his findings at the site.
Issue of Consent NOC
After the applicant resolves all the issues raised in the inspection report, the SPCB/ PCC will grant the Consent certificates. If the application is rejected, the reasons for rejection are notified to the applicant. In any case the application will be processed in a time bound manner that will depend on the concerned SPCB/PCC.
Validity of Consent NOC
Validity period of Consent to Establish: CTE is a one-time certificate, and the concerned State Pollution Control Board issues it for 3 to 5 years. If a project proponent is required, then an extension of the period can also be given in particular cases.
Validity Period and Renewal for Consent to Operate: It will be five years for the red category of Industries and ten years for orange category industries. However, the validity can be between 7 to 15 years for green category industries. CTO has to be periodically renewed, too, and the application for the same has to be made before the existing CTO expires.
Validity Period and Renewal for Environmental Clearance: The validity for Environmental Clearance is seven years and can be renewed for a maximum period of 3 years. If the renewal application is filed within one month after the expiry of validity, the application is referred to the concerned EAC or SEAC. Based on their recommendation, the Joint Secretary in the Union Environment Ministry takes the decision on renewal in such cases. In case an application is made between30 to 90 days, the application is condoned at the level of the Chairman or Minister in charge of MoEF&CC. No condonation for the delay is granted if an application for extension is filed after 90 days.
Penalty for forest-related Offences
Forest officers or Police-Officers, if they have sufficient reason to believe that a forest offence has been committed with respect to forest produce, are authorised, as per Section 52 of the Act, to seize such products together with the assets which were used to commit the offence.
How will Enterclimate Assist You?
Solutions specific to your requirements
We provide end-to-end assistance for all your legal requirements under the Indian Forests Act, Water Act and Air Act. All regulations concerning your business can be achieved and complied with with our customised packages.
Expert advice all along the way
The Enterclimate will help you add value to your business. Our team comprises industry experts with more than ten years of experience in the field of environmental licences. Approach us for all your compliance requirements under the Indian Forest Act.
Precise and Prompt Assistance
Any issues raised during the registration and licencing process will be resolved with precise and prompt assistance by our experts and compliance executives, who will help you secure NOC for your industry.