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New zoos, safaris require SC approval; issues forest conservation directives

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
February 20, 2024 01:36 IST
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Any fresh proposal for opening a zoo or starting a 'safari' on forest land will now require the approval of the Supreme Court, which on Monday issued a slew of directions for forest conservation across the country.

Image used for representational purpose only. Photograph: ANI Photo

The top court took note of the submission that the definition of forest under the 2023 amended law on conservation leaves out nearly 1.99 lakh sq km of forest land from the ambit of 'forest' which can be used for other purposes.


Dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the amendments to the forest conservation law of 2023, a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra directed the state governments and union territories to provide the details of the forest land within their jurisdiction to the Centre by March 31 this year.

The top court said the ministry of environment, forest and climate change will put all the details on “forest-like area, unclassed forest land and community forest land”, to be provided by the states and UTs, on its website by April 15.

“No Zoos/Safaris to be notified in forests lands without prior approval...any proposal for the establishment of zoo/safaris referred to in the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 owned by Govt or any authority in forest areas other than protected areas shall not be finally approved save and except with the prior permission of this court," it said.

In its interim order, the bench asked the states and UTs to act as per the definition of "forest" as laid down by the top court in the 1996 judgment in the case of TN Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India.

It noted that the process of identifying land recorded as forests in government records is going on as per the amended law.

The petitioners have alleged that the wide definition of "forest" in the apex court judgement has been narrowed under Section 1A inserted in the amended law. As per the amended law, land has to be either notified as a forest or specifically recorded as a forest in a government record to qualify as a "forest".

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, said the amendments were passed in furtherance of the apex court's directions in the judgement.

On March 27, 2023, the Centre had introduced the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill.

The pleas challenge the constitutionality of the amended law and want it struck down as null and void.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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