The Union Cabinet of India approved the amendments to the India Forest Act, 1927 to stop instances of unnecessary harassment and prosecution of forest dwellers and tribals for minor offences. Besides, to restrain the arbitrary power of the forest official, a clause could be added to the Act according to which the forest official will have to consult and record the views of the gram sabha or village assembly before adjudging a person to have violated the law. The amendment to the Indian Forest Act was necessary because forest officers harassed tribals for minor issues like cutting grass or entering forest. Infact 90% of offences are under this category only.
The amendment to the Indian Forest Act raised the limit to which fines for relatively minor offences can be compounded from 50 rupees to 10000 rupees. Enacted in 1927, the law set the limit for compounding offences to 50 rupees. At present, the low limit of 50 rupees was all easy to breach. It may help in curbing the encroachments on forest properties which harm the interests of tribals.
Besides the above, the Union ministry of Environment and Forests, asked state governments to declare bamboo as a ‘minor forest produce’ to help conserve bamboo forest and enable sustainable use and the management of this important resource. Bamboo is an important material used by tribals for their dwellings and many indigenous crafts and cottage industries.