Daily Current Affairs for UPSC

Apex Court’s interim order on the Forest Act

Syllabus: Ecology & Environment [GS paper – 3]


There was a recent amendment made by the Govt. of India to the Forest Conservation Act and the Supreme Court has released an interim order concerning this amendment. In this order, it mentions to maintain the application of original definition of forests till any final decision is reached in response to a petition challenging the amended Act.

Overview of the Act

  • This Act was enacted in 1980. The main objective was to restrict deforestation.
  • Before the Act was enacted, huge hectares of land were lost due to natural deforestation.
  • And this Act is applicable primarily to the lands which are recognized as Forest land as per the Indian Forest Act.

About the Forest Conservation Act

  • In this it is evident that some states have declared their forest cover areas with or without any norm or parameter for it and some states have no parameters at all to define their forest areas. For example Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are two states.
  • The Main attempt of the government to amend it to bring clarity regarding the forest cover area because there are some areas which are legally put to non-forestry uses but confirmed to a state’s criteria of a deemed forest.

Bird’s eye view of state wise forest cover

A brief statistics about the state wise forest cover of India as per 2021 data is given below for a clarity in understanding of the Forest Conservation Act and related phenomenon.

image 2024 02 26T10 43 07 390Z 1

(A brief statistics about the state wise forest cover of India as per 2021 data)

Proposed Amendments by the Union Government

  • The central Government took this step to amend the Act just ti bring the clarity specially regarding the state criteria regarding the Land to fall in the forest category for deemed forest but not officially recognized.
  • It also proposed to exclude such lands from protection to address challenges in the use and ownership of the Land.
  • It also exempted some forest lands from protection in order to execute some projects related to infrastructure development and security.

Proposed Amendment Benefits

  • It will clarify about the definition of forest
  • Conservation related to migration of species due to climate change
  • Developmental provisions of the forest land
  • Also increase National Security
  • Afforestation in a compensatory manner for the private entities.
  • It facilitates and empowers local communities residing in the vicinity of the forest land.

Significance of Supreme Court’s Interim Order

  • The apex court maintains the definition of forest as it was in original.
  • It ordered mandatory disclosure of records of deemed forest by concerned states and UTs
  • Also the apex court struck down the schemes which were enabling earlier to establish zoos and safari parks on forest land.


  • As per the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order, the actions to be taken by the govt. in order to follow a guided mode of forest conservation and preserve and protect all the forest land as deemed by the definition of forest.  

Source: The Hindu

UPSC Mains Practice Question

Q.Critically evaluate the action of supreme court in contrary to the proposed amendment of Forest Act by the Central Govt. Justify your view.

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