Forest Act gaffe makes bamboo a tree | india | Hindustan Times
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Forest Act gaffe makes bamboo a tree

The Centre for Civil Society has launched an online signature campaign seeking to end bamboo’s 82-year-old classification as a tree under the Forest Act. Rahul Karmakar reports.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2009 19:33 IST
Rahul Karmakar

You don’t have to be a

paanchwi pass se tez

to say bamboo is the strongest grass on earth. Not if you derive your intellectual strength from the Indian Forest Act of 1927.



The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) has launched an online signature campaign seeking to end bamboo’s 82-year-old classification as a tree under the Forest Act. “This has been a very costly blunder,” said CCS president Parth J Shah. “An amendment is needed to remove bamboo from the list of trees under Section 2(7) of the Act.”



The campaign on

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/bamboo/

is addressed to prime minister Manmohan Singh, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.



“With 1500 documented uses, bamboo is the most useful renewable resource scientifically recognized as a grass. India has the largest proportion of area under bamboo cultivation. If managed well, bamboo could become a steady and sustainable source of livelihood for millions of people, reduce use of timber and save our forests,” the petition reads.



The Planning Commission estimates bamboo could provide employment to 50 million people, particularly the poorest forest-dependent communities. The ASSOCHAM, on the other hand, feels India could save Rs 7,000 crore every year by substituting wood products with bamboo besides saving the country’s forests.



The classification of bamboo as a tree often comes in the way of commercial use. Consequently, bamboo productivity per hectare in India is one-fifth of that of China while the annual turnover of the bamboo sector is one-twelfth.



The petition has also sought declaring the Northeast – it grows over 66 per cent of India’s bamboo – a Special Bamboo Zone. “This grass can be India’s green gold if the hurdles of forest laws which govern the harvest, trade, transport and use of bamboo are removed,” said Shah.



Notably, New Delhi is banking on bamboo from the Northeast to erect the proposed bamboo curtains to screen off the capital’s eyesores during the Commonwealth Games.