Bamboo, which has been classified as a tree for the past 90 years, has now been removed from that category after an ordinance was passed by President Ram Nath Kovind amending the Indian Forest Act. In non-forest areas, a permit will no longer be required for felling and transporting of bamboo across state borders.
Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that this move hopes to achieve two purposes - increasing the income of farmers, as well as increasing the green cover of the country by encouraging farmers to grow bamboo for cultivation.
Bamboo grows abundantly in areas outside forests, with an estimated growth of 10.20 million tonnes. It has multiple uses, in food, paper, handicrafts, and construction of furniture and houses amongst other things. Despite having 19% of the world’s bamboo cover, India imported timber and related products such as pulp, paper, and furniture worth Rs 43,000 crore in 2015. Currently, the demand for bamboo is estimated to be 28 million tonnes in the country.
This amendment hopes to address some of these issues.
The amendment has been passed as an ordinance, and still needs to be passed in parliament. But the overall support for this move should mean that the amendment will not be blocked. The classification of bamboo as a tree posed as an impediment to its economic use. This modification has been welcomed by environmentalists and cultivators alike.