Forest departments had been refusing the control over bamboo by forest dwellers
The Union environment ministry's decision to ask states to treat bamboo as a minor forest produce (MFP) has given millions of poor tribals and forest dwellers hope for a new source of income.
In a letter to the chief ministers of all states on March 21, environment minister Jairam Ramesh, asked them to direct the forest departments to treat bamboo as an MFP. He also asked them to respect the rights of the forest dwelling communities as per the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 . The Act recognises bamboo as an MFP and vests the “right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce” with scheduled tribes and traditional forest dwellers. The forest departments had been refusing control over bamboo by the communities and insisted that since Indian Forest Act 1927 treats bamboo as a tree, it cannot be treated as an MFP.
In his letter, Ramesh said that gram sabhas will have the right to issue transit passes to transport bamboo out of forest for sale in all areas vested under FRA and where rights to the community forests resources are recognised. This will be applicable to both the areas under community forest resource as per FRA and the village forest as per the Indian Forest Act 1927. Even in the non-forest areas or the private lands, the gram sabhas will issue the transit passes.
The letter also stated that the extraction levels of bamboo for the needs of the community will be decided by the respective gram sabhas. They will develop a management plan for commercial harvesting of bamboo in consultation with the forest department.
In areas where community forests are not settled, forest department will continue to design and implement the management plans for bamboo, but in partnership with the local communities. The generated revenue from bamboo cultivation and management will be shared with the local communities. To prevent overexploitation, Ramesh said the impacts of extraction will be reviewed every three years to make appropriate changes in the working plan.
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