Report of the high-level working group on the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill 2023

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change introduced the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 (“Bill”) in Lok Sabha on 29th March 2023, proposing amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (“FCA”). The Bill has been referred to the Joint Committee of the Parliament (“JC”) for examination, which is expected to give its report in July 2023. The JC vide press communication CBC 31201/11/0001/2324 has invited views/ suggestions on the proposed amendment. This submission seeks to express concerns and make suggestions on the same. Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (“Vidhi”) constituted an independent High-Level Working Group (“HLWG”) to comprehensively review the Bill and come up with suggestions to be submitted to the Joint Committee on the Bill. The HLWG consisted of 18 members of high repute and diverse experience on forest-related issues. It included retired public service officers, senior conservationists, forest and wildlife scientists, eco-restoration experts, representatives from civil society organizations working with forest-dependent communities and lawyers from various parts of the country.