Karnataka Government releasing 6.64 lakh hectares of deemed forests

• Karnataka state government has been arguing that classification was done without taking into account needs of the people and is impacting farmers and also barred large tracts from mining.

• Reports by expert committees constituted by Karnataka government, after Supreme Court (SC) judgement in 1996, identified 9.94 lakh hectares as deemed forests.

About Deemed forest:

• It refers to land tracts that appear to be a forest, but have not been notified so by government or in historical records. It comprise of about 1% of India’s forest land.

• Freedom to define which tracts of forest qualify as forest has been prerogative of States since 1996.

• SC, in 1996 Godavarman judgement, had broadened definition of forest to include not just land classified as forest under forest or revenue departments, but also those that are forests according to definition of a forest.

• SC directed states to constitute expert committees to identify all forests, irrespective of whether they are notified, recognised or classified under any law, and irrespective of land ownership.

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Mains Paper 3: Environment

Prelims level: Deemed forests

Mains level: Definition of deemed forests

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