Forest Conservation Rules 2022


Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has issued the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022.


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are the Forest Conservation Rules?
  2. What do the updated rules say?
  3. Other Provisions of Forest (Conservation) Rules,2022

What are the Forest Conservation Rules?

  • The Forest Conservation Rules deal with the implementation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.
  • They prescribe the procedure to be followed for forest land to be diverted for non-forestry uses such as road construction, highway development, railway lines, and mining.
  • The broad aims of the Forest Conservation Act are to protect forest and wildlife, put brakes on State governments’ attempts to hive off forest land for commercial projects and striving to increase the area under forests.
Forest Advisory Committee (FAC):
  • For forest land beyond five hectares, approval for diverting land must be given by the Central government. This is via a specially constituted committee, called the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC).
  • This committee examines whether the user agency, or those who have requested forest land, have made a convincing case for the upheaval of that specific parcel of land, whether they have a plan in place to ensure that the ensuing damage — from felling of trees in that area, denuding the local landscape — will be minimal and the said piece of land doesn’t cause damage to wildlife habitat.
  • Once the FAC is convinced and approves (or rejects a proposal), it is forwarded to the concerned State government where the land is located, who then has to ensure that provisions of the Forest Right Act, 2006, a separate Act that protects the rights of forest dwellers and tribals over their land, are complied with.
  • The FAC approval also means that the future users of the land must provide compensatory land for afforestation as well as pay the net present value (ranging between ₹10-15 lakh per hectare.)

What do the updated rules say?

  • The rules make a provision for private parties to cultivate plantations and sell them as land to companies who need to meet compensatory forestation targets.
  • This, according to the government, will help India increase forest cover as well as solve the problems of the States of not finding land within their jurisdiction for compensatory purposes.
  • While this has invited its own controversy, the latest point of contention is the absence of wording, in the updated Forest Conservation Rules, of what happens to tribals and forest-dwelling communities whose land would be hived off for developmental work.
Prior to the updated rules
  • State bodies would forward documents to the FAC that would also include information on the status of whether the forest rights of locals in the area were settled.
  • After 2009, the Environment Ministry passed an order mandating that proposals would not be entertained by the FAC unless there was a letter from the State specifying that the forest rights in the place had been “settled” and the gram sabha, or the governing body in villages in the area, had given their written consent to the diversion of forest.
  • However, there have been a series of orders by the Environment Ministry over the years, and frequently opposed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, that have sought to skirt the necessity for consent from the gram sabha.
New Rules
  • It formally codify this and say that a project, once approved by the FAC, will then be passed on to the State authorities who will collect the compensatory fund and land, and process it for final approval.
  • Only in passing, is it mentioned that the States will ensure “settlement” of Forest Rights Acts applicable.

Other Provisions of Forest (Conservation) Rules,2022

It constituted an

  • Advisory Committee
  • Regional empowered committee at each of the integrated regional offices
  • Screening committee at State/Union Territory (UT) government-level.

Advisory Committee:

  • The Advisory Committee’s role is limited to providing advice or making recommendations regarding the grant of approval under applicable sections with regard to proposals that have been referred to it as well as any matter relating to the conservation of forests that has been referred to it by the Central government.

Project Screening Committee:

  • For an initial examination of plans including the diversion of forest land, the MoEFCC has directed the establishment of project screening committees in each state and the UT. The five-member committee will meet at least twice a month and provide time-bound project advice to the state governments.
  • Within 60 days for all non-mining projects with a size of 5 to 40 hectares, and within 75 days for all such mining projects.
  • The committee is given greater time for projects covering larger areas: 150 days for mining projects and 120 days for non-mining projects involving more than 100 hectares.

Regional Empowered Committees:

  • All linear projects (roads, highways, etc), projects involving forest land up to 40 hectares and those that have projected a use of forest land having a canopy density up to 0.7 — irrespective of their extent for the purpose of survey — shall be examined in the Integrated Regional Office.

Compensatory Afforestation:

  • The applicants for diverting forest land in a hilly or mountainous state with green cover covering more than two-thirds of its geographical area, or in a state/UT with forest cover covering more than one-third of its geographical area, will be able to take up compensatory afforestation in other states/UTs where the cover is less than 20%.

Draft Eco-Sensitive Area Norms for Western Ghats


The Union Environment Ministry’s latest draft notification on Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats is facing stiff opposition in Karnataka.

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) had issued a draft notification, which demarcated large parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and as eco-sensitive areas.
  • Among these states, Karnataka contains the lion share of the notified areas in the Western Ghats, at 20,668 sq km.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Eco-Sensitive Zones?
  2. What does the new draft notification for the Western Ghats say?
  3. What are the curbs that the state governments will have to implement as per the notification?
  4. Suggestions by the Kasturirangan panel

What are Eco-Sensitive Zones?

  • Eco Sensitive Zones are fragile areas around protected areas declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • They are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • Among activities prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone are hydroelectric projects, brick kilns, commercial use of firewood and discharge of untreated effluents in natural water bodies or land areas.
  • No new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer, except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities.

What does the new draft notification for the Western Ghats say?

  • The draft notification demarcates 46,832 sq km in the five states Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu as ESA in the Western Ghats.
  • Kerala is excluded from the draft notification and it had earlier undertaken the exercise of demarcating ESA in the state by physical verification.
  • The ESA recommended by the Kerala state government is spread over an area of 9,993.7 square kilometers, in contrast to the 13,108 sq km recommended by the K Kasturirangan panel that gave its report in 2013.
  • Among the five states, 20,668 sq km of the ESA lies in Karnataka, 1,461 sq km in Goa, 17,340 sq km in Maharashtra, 6,914 sq km in Tamil Nadu and 449 sq km in Gujarat.
  • According to the notification, the concerned state governments are responsible for monitoring and enforcing the provisions of the notification.

What are the curbs that the state governments will have to implement as per the notification?

  • The draft notification states there shall be a complete ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining in the ESA.
  • All existing mines are to be phased out within five years from the date of issue of the final notification or on the expiry of the existing mining lease.
  • It also bars setting up of new thermal power projects and expansion of existing plants in the sensitive area, and the banning of all new ‘Red’ category industries.
    • These are activities that have a Pollution Index score of 60 and above, such as petrochemical manufacturing, and coal liquefaction.
  • The construction of new townships and area development projects will also be prohibited in the areas.
  • However, all existing health care establishments shall continue in ESA and so will new hydropower projects on the basis of the Environmental Impact Assessment notification.
  • ‘Orange’ category industries, with a pollution index score of 41-59, such as jute processing and ‘White’ industries that are considered non-polluting, like chalk making, will also be allowed with strict compliance of environmental regulation.

How will the Centre ensure the implementation of these norms?

  • Decision Support and Monitoring Centre for Western Ghats shall be established by the Environment Ministry in collaboration with the state governments of the Western Ghats region.
  • This will assess and report on the status of ecology of Western Ghats on a regular basis, and provide a decision support facility in the implementation of the provisions of the notification.
  • The post clearance monitoring of projects and activities allowed in the ESA will be carried out by the concerned state government, the State Pollution Control Board and the regional office of the Ministry.
  • All projects in the Eco-sensitive Area which have been given an environmental clearance or forest clearance will be monitored at least once a year by the concerned regional office of the Union Environment Ministry.
  • On an annual basis, the state governments will also prepare a ‘State of Health Report’ of the Western Ghats region within their jurisdiction, and provide details of the steps taken to monitor and enforce the provisions of the notification.

Suggestions by the Kasturirangan panel

  • The panel, formed in 2012, was tasked with the mandate of taking a “holistic view of the issue, and to bring synergy” between the aims of protecting the environment and biodiversity, while maintaining the needs and aspirations of the local and indigenous people, of sustainable development and environmental integrity of the region.
  • This high-level working group had suggested future steps to be taken to prevent further degradation of the fragile ecology of the Ghats.
  • The report had recommended a blanket ban on mining, quarrying, red category industries and thermal power projects.
  • It also stated that the impact of infrastructural projects on the forest and wildlife should be studied before permission is given.

Reform in Bail Law


Recently, the Supreme Court underlined that “there is a pressing need” for reform in the law related to bail and called on the government to consider framing a special legislation on the lines of the law in the United Kingdom.


GS II- Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions  of the Article:

  1. What is the ruling about?
  2. What is the India’s law on bail?
  3. What is Bail Law the UK law?
  4. What has the Supreme Court held on reforms?

What is the ruling about?

  • A two-judge Bench issued certain clarifications to an older judgment delivered in July 2021 on bail reform (Satender Kumar Antil vs CBI).
    • The ruling essentially a reiteration of several crucial principles of criminal procedure.
  • Referring to the state of jails in the country, where over two-thirds lodged are undertrials, the Supreme Court underlined that arrest is a draconian measure that needs to be used sparingly.
  • Theoretically, the court also linked the idea of indiscriminate arrests to magistrates ignoring the rule of “bail, not jail” to a colonial mindset.
    • The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was first drafted in 1882 and continues to be in use with amendments from time to time.

What is the India’s law on bail?

  • The CrPC does not define the word bail but only categories offences under the Indian Penal Code as ‘bailable’ and ‘non-bailable’.
  • The CrPC empowers magistrates to grant bail for bailable offences as a matter of right.
  • This would involve release on furnishing a bail bond, without or without security.
  • Non-bailable offences are cognisable, which enables the police officer to arrest without a warrant. In such cases, a magistrate would determine if the accused is fit to be released on bail.

What is Bail Law in the UK law?

  • The Bail Act of the United Kingdom, 1976, prescribes the procedure for granting bail. A key feature is that one of the aims of the legislation is “reducing the size of the inmate population”.
  • The law also has provisions for ensuring legal aid for defendants.
  • The Act recognises a “general right” to be granted bail.
  • Its Section 4(1) raises the presumption of bail by stating that the law applies to a person who shall be granted bail except as provided in Schedule 1 to the Act.
  • For rejecting bail, the prosecution must show that grounds exist for believing the defendant on bail would not surrender to custody, would commit an offence while on bail, or would interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice; unless the defendant must be detained for his own welfare or protection; or in other circumstances.

What has the Supreme Court held on reforms?

The court’s ruling is in the form of guidelines, and it also draws the line on certain procedural issues for the police and judiciary.

Separate Law for Bail

  • The court underlined that the CrPC, despite amendments since Independence, largely retains its original structure as drafted by a colonial power over its subjects.
  • The court made this point to signal that despite its rulings, structurally, the Code does not account for arrest as a fundamental liberty issue in itself.
  • It also highlighted that magistrates do not necessarily exercise their discretionary powers uniformly.
  • Uniformity and certainty in the decisions of the court are the foundations of judicial dispensation.
  • Persons accused with same offense shall never be treated differently either by the same court or by the same or different courts.
  •  Such an action though by an exercise of discretion despite being a judicial one would be a grave affront to Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India.
  • The court’s solution on this is the framing of a separate law that deals with the grant of bail.

Indiscriminate Arrests:

  • The court noted that the culture of too many arrests, especially for non-cognisable offences, is unwarranted.
  • It emphasised that even for cognisable offences, arrest is not mandatory and must be “necessitated.
    • Such necessity is drawn to prevent the committing of any further offense, for a proper investigation, and to prevent him/her from either disappearing or tampering with the evidence.
    • He/she can also be arrested to prevent such person from making any inducement, threat, or promise to any person according to the facts, so as to dissuade him from disclosing said facts either to the court or to the police officer.
    • One more ground on which an arrest may be necessary is when his/her presence is required after arrest for production before the Court and the same cannot be assured.
  • It held that lower courts must satisfy that these conditions are met and “Any non-compliance would entitle the accused for grant of bail”.

Bail Application:

  • There need not be any insistence of a bail application while considering the application under Section 88, 170, 204 and 209 of the Code.
  • These sections relate to various stages of a trial where a magistrate can decide on release of an accused.
  • These range from power of the magistrate to take bond for appearance (Section 88) to power to issue summons (Section 204).
  • The Supreme Court held that in these circumstances, magistrates must routinely consider granting bail, without insisting on a separate bail application.

Direction to States:

  • The SC also directed all state governments and Union Territories to facilitate standing orders to comply with the orders and avoid indiscriminate arrests.
  • The CBI has already communicated earlier orders of the Court to special judges under its jurisdiction.
  • This would certainly take care of not only the unwarranted arrests, but also the clogging of bail applications before various Courts as they may not even be required for the offences up to seven years.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)


Recently, the Union Agriculture Ministry announced that Andhra Pradesh has decided to rejoin the crop insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) from the ongoing kharif season.

  • Andhra Pradesh was one of six states that have stopped implementation of the scheme over the last four years. The other five, which remain out, are Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Telangana.


GS II- Welfare Schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why did the states opt out?
  2. About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
  3. Risks covered under the scheme

Why did the states opt out?

Andhra Pradesh:
  • The state left the PMFBY from rabi season 2019-20.
  • State had mentioned several reasons:
    • That the scheme should be voluntary;
    • That states should be given options to choose the risks covered;
    • The scheme should be universal;
    • The cut-off date for enrolment should be flexible;
    • The state should be given option to use their own database of E-crop, an application used by the state government to collect information about crops.
  • The first state to opt out, from 2018-19, after implementing the scheme in 2016-17 (27.1 lakh farmers insured) and 2017-18 (23 lakh).
  • There were main three reasons for the state’s decision:
    • The state wanted universal coverage.
    • The state government wanted zero premium for farmers (meaning the entire premium should be paid by the government.)
    • The rate of premium was very high for Bihar because of the history of claims under earlier schemes.
  • It stopped implementing the scheme soon after the Centre revamped it in February 2020, effective from kharif 2020.
  • Under the revised guidelines, “The non-payment of the State Share of premium subsidy within the prescribed timelines as defined in the seasonality discipline will lead to the disqualification of the State Government to implement the scheme in the next season.”
  • Jharkhand’s share of premium subsidy was overdue for 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • This was the main reason that Jharkhand opted out from 2020-21.
  • Besides, there were other “operational challenges” and “political reasons.
West Bengal:
  • The reason for West Bengal not implementing the PMFBY is purely “political”.
  • The state wants to implement the scheme without mentioning Pradhan Mantri in the scheme’s name, which is not possible.
  • West Bengal implemented the scheme for three years from 2016-17 to 2018-19, covering 41.3 lakh farmers in 2016-17, 40.4 lakh in 2017-18, and 51.3 lakh in 2018-19.
  • It implemented the PMFBY from 2016-17 to 2019-20, covering 19.8 lakh farmers in 2016-17, 17.6 lakh in 2017-18, 21.7 lakh in 2018-19, and 24.8 lakh in 2019-20.
  • After the scheme was revamped, Gujarat invited tenders for three years in 2020 but insurance companies quoted a very high premium, and hence the state opted out.
Telangana :
  • It implemented the PMFBY for the initial four years, covering 9.7 lakh, 11 lakh, 8 lakh in 2018-19 and 10.3 lakh farmers in successive yaers before stopping in 2020-21.
  • Telangana’s share of premium was overdue for 2018-19 and 2019-20, the main reason why it did not notify the scheme for 2020-21.

About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) launched on 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an insurance service for farmers for their yields.
  • PMFBY is in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme.
  • The PMFBY will replace the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as the Modified NAIS.
  • The Scheme shall be implemented through a multi-agency framework by selected insurance companies under the overall guidance & control of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW), Government of India (GOI) and the concerned State in co-ordination with various other agencies.
  • Premium cost over and above the farmer share is equally subsidized by States and the Central Government of India. However, the Central Government shares 90% of the premium subsidy for North Eastern States to promote the uptake in the region.
    •  Under the PMFBY, a farmer is required to pay as premium 2% of the sum insured or actuarial rate, whichever is less, for all kharif foodgrain and oilseed crops; 1.5% of sum insured or actuarial rate, whichever is less, for all rabi foodgrain and oilseed crops; and 5% for horticultural crops.
  • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
  • To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.

Beneficiaries: All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.

Coverage of Crops:
  • Oil seeds
  • Food crop
  • Annual Commercial / Annual Horticultural crops.
  • In addition, for perennial crops, pilots for coverage can be taken for those perennial horticultural crops for which standard methodology for yield estimation is available.

Risks covered under the scheme

  • Prevented Sowing/Planting/Germination Risk: Insured area is prevented from sowing/planting/germination due to deficit rainfall or adverse seasonal/weather conditions.
  • Standing Crop (Sowing to Harvesting): Comprehensive risk insurance is provided to cover yield losses due to non-preventable risks, viz. Drought, Dry spell, Flood, Inundation, widespread Pests and Disease attack, Landslides, Fire due to natural causes, Lightening, Storm, Hailstorm and Cyclone.
  • Post-Harvest Losses: Coverage is available only up to a maximum period of two weeks from harvesting, for those crops which are required to be dried in cut and spread / small bundled condition in the field after harvesting against specific perils of Hailstorm, Cyclone, Cyclonic rains and Unseasonal rains
  • Localized Calamities: Loss/damage to notified insured crops resulting from occurrence of identified localized risks of Hailstorm, Landslide, Inundation, Cloud burst and Natural fire due to lightening affecting isolated farms in the notified area.
  • Add-on coverage for crop loss due to attack by wild animals: The States may consider providing add-on coverage for crop loss due to attack by wild animals wherever the risk is perceived to be substantial and is identifiable.
  • General Exclusions: Losses arising out of war and nuclear risks, malicious damage and other preventable risks shall be excluded.

 Increase in Current Account Deficit


The Finance Ministry has asserted that the current account deficit (CAD) could, however, deteriorate this year mainly due to rising trade deficits.


GS III- Indian Economy (Growth and Development)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Current Account Deficit?
  2. What is Balance of Payments?
  3. What has been the recent trend?
  4. What are the reasons for the current account deficit?

What is the Current Account Deficit?

  • A current account deficit occurs when the total value of goods and services a country imports exceeds the total value of goods and services it exports.
  • The balance of exports and imports of goods is referred to as the trade balance. Trade Balance is a part of ‘Current Account Balance’.
  • According to an earlier report of 2021, High Oil Imports, High Gold Imports are the major driving force, widening the CAD.

What is Balance of Payments?

  • BoP of a country can be defined as a systematic statement of all economic transactions of a country with the rest of the world during a specific period, usually one year.
  • Purposes of Calculation of BoP:
    • Provides information about a country’s financial and economic situation.
    • Can be used to evaluate whether the value of a country’s currency is appreciating or depreciating.
    • Assists the government in making budgetary and trade policy decisions.
    • Provides crucial data for analysing and comprehending the economic dealings of a country with other countries.
Components of the Balance of payments (BOP)
  • Current account: It includes the financial transactions dealing with the export and import of goods, services, unilateral transfers, investment income etc.
  • Capital account: It includes the financial transactions dealing with assets such as foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investment, foreign loans etc.
  • Official reserve transactions: It conducted by the central bank in case of the BOP deficit or BOP surplus.
  • Errors and omissions: It is the element of BOP (other than the current account and the capital account) which refers to the balancing items reflecting the inability to record all the international financial transactions.

What has been the recent trend?

  • In Q4 FY 2021-22, CAD improved to 1.5% of GDP or $13.4 billion from 2.6% of GDP in Q3 FY 2021-22 ($22.2 billion).
  • The difference between the value of goods imported and exported fell to $54.48 million in Q4FY 2021-22 from $59.75 million in Q3 FY2021-22.
  • However, based on robust performance by computer and business services, net service receipts rose both sequentially and on a year-on-year basis.
  • Remittances by Indians abroad also rose.

What are the reasons for the current account deficit?

  • Intensifying geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions leading to crude oil and commodity prices soaring globally have been exerting upward pressure on the import bill.
  • A rise in prices of coal, natural gas, fertilizers, and edible oils have added to the pressure on trade deficit.
  • However, with global demand picking up, merchandise exports have also been rising.


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