GUWAHATI, April 4 - The Assembly today witnessed noisy scenes during the passing of the Assam Forest Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2018, with the Opposition Congress and AIUDF members staging a walkout, protesting the failure of the Act in differentiating between bamboo in forestland and bamboo in non-forestland.
The Act effected an amendment to Sub-Section (2) of Section 3 of the earlier Assam Forest Regulation Act, 1891 Act by omitting the word �bamboos� from the definition of �tree�, in order to exempt bamboos from the requirement of permit for felling or transit under the earlier Act.
Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia and Sherman Ali Ahmed (both Congress) alleged that by not distinguishing between bamboo grown on forestland and non-forestland, the Government succumbed to the pressure from the vested interest bamboo traders� lobby and it would trigger severe exploitation of the State�s bamboo resources. They also pointed out that the Central Act passed recently distinguished between bamboo on forestland and non-forestland.
Environment and Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma sought to defend the Act by saying that there were laws to protect the bamboo resources found in the State�s forests. Ahmed contested the Minister by saying that it was only a verbal assurance from her and that the new Act was silent on that critical aspect that would spell doom for the State�s bamboo reserves.
Brahma said that the Act would encourage bamboo plantation by farmers resulting in the enhancement of their income from agricultural fields.
As per the earlier definition, trees included palms, bamboos, stumps, brush-wood and canes. Bamboo, although taxonomically a grass species, was treated as tree for the purpose of the earlier Act, and required permit for felling and inter-State movement of bamboo.
AGP legislator Brindaban Goswami stressed the need for harnessing the immense scope offered by bamboo in the State in the lines achieved by China. He along with BJP legislator and Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary also demanded a probe into the alleged large-scale anomalies during the National Bamboo Mission implemented in the State.