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Indian Forest Act, 1927
An Act to consolidate the law relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest-produce.
The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on previous Indian Forest Acts implemented under the British. The most famous one was the Indian Forest Act of 1878. Both the 1878 act and the 1927 one sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce. It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest. It defines what is a forest offence, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.
Reserved Forest is an area mass of land duly notified under the provisions of India Forest Act or the State Forest Acts having full degree of protection. In Reserved Forests all activities are prohibited unless permitted. Reserved Forest is notified under section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 [Act 16 of 1927] or under the reservation provisions of the Forest acts of the State Governments of the Indian Union. The manner in which a Reserved Forest, shortly written as RF, has to be constituted is described in section 3 to 20 of the Act. It is within power of a State Government to issue a preliminary notification under section 4 of the Act declaring that it has been decided to constitute such land, as specified in a Schedule with details of its location, area and boundary description, into a Reserved Forest. such a notification also appoints an officer of the State Government, normally the Deputy Commissioner of the concernned district, as Forest Settlement Officer. The Forest Settlement Officer fixes a period not less than three months, to hear the claims and objections of every person having or claiming any rights over the land which is so notified to be reserved. He conducts inquiries into the claims of rights, and may reject or accept the same. He is empowered even to acquire land over which right is claimed. For rights other than that of right of way, right of pasture, right to forest produce, or right to a water course, the Forest Settlement Officer may exclude such land in whole or in part, or come to an agreement with the owner for surrender of his rights, or proceed to acquire such land in the manner prescribed under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 [Act 1 of 1894]. Once the Forest Settlement Officer settles all the rights either by admitting them or rejecting them, as per the provisions of the Act, and has heard appeals, if any, and settled the same, all the rights with the said piece of land [boundaries of which might have been altered or modified during the settlement process] vest with the State Government. Thereafter, the State Government issues notification under section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 declaring that piece of land to be a Reserved Forest.
Protected Forest an area or mass of land notified under the provisions of India Forest Act or the State Forest Acts having limited degree of protection. In Protected Forests all activities are permitted unless prohibited. Protected Forest is an area or mass of land, which is a reserved forest, and over which the Government has property rights, declared to be so by a State Government under the provisions of the section 29 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. It does not require the long and tedious process of settlement, as in case of declaration of a reserved forest. However, if such a declaration infringes upon a person's rights, the Government may cause an inquiry into the same; but pending such inquiries, the declaration cannot abridge or affect such rights of persons or communities. Further, in a protected forest, the Government may issue notifications declaring certain trees to be reserved, or suspend private rights, if any, for a period not exceeding 30 years, or prohibit quarrying, removal of any forest produce, or breaking of land etc. Indian forest act was established in 1927 for the protection of all the flora and fauna.
Village Forest is constituted under section 28 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The Government may assign to any village community the rights over a land which may not be a part of a reserved forest for use of the community. Usually, forested community lands are constituted into Village Grazing Reserve [VGR]. Parcels of land are so notified are marked on the settlement revenue maps of the villages.
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