Weddings, exhibitions, concerts, film shoots and other events of a temporary nature may now be allowed inside forests without the requirement of prior permission from the Centre under the Forest Conservation Act, a decision that has opened a debate on their likely impact on the wilderness.

In a letter dated October 11 addressed to forest secretaries of states and union territories, a copy of which was seen by HT, the environment ministry said all such temporary activities can be conducted with approval of the divisional forest officer (DFO) of the range.
The letter said the ministry had been receiving communications on whether the Forest Conservation Act applied to temporary activities inside forests.

“The matter has been examined in detail in the ministry and it has been decided that temporary work in forest land which does not involve part of any protected area, breaking up or clearing of forest land or portion thereof, assigning by way of lease or otherwise to firm, organization or a person and does not create any right over such forest land…will not require prior approval of central government under the FC Act,” the letter added.