On Social media, you might have come across many pictures of water-bottles and kitchenware made out of Bamboo. The mantra that PM Modi gave to cope with the economic situation post-pandemic – vocal for local – is arguably a big factor behind people discussing these options. The health proposition that Bamboo bottles offer against the plastic bottles is another attractive feature in the present world where the pandemic has forced everyone to move towards healthy lifestyle.
North-eastern states like Tripura are now entering conversations since they majorly grow Bamboo. So, the new trend is helping the Northeast people to improve their livelihood.
Tripura: Locals are making hand-crafted bamboo water bottles in Agartala. Avinab Kanth,In-charge at Bamboo&Crafts Development Institute says,"Presently, this is a product that has great market & demand. People are willing to buy these bottles as they are eco-friendly." (14.07.20) pic.twitter.com/ZYFz2XpmF4
— ANI (@ANI) July 15, 2020
But this context should remind us few important things.
- For long, the North-east was deprived of this Bamboo benefit while the other nations, like China, mainly exploited our market.
- The Modi government brought an amendment to the forest act to shift Bamboo from timber category to grass. This removed all the regulations that were required for the cutting of Bamboos and started building the livelihoods of Northeast people in a new fervour.
Picture of Distress Before 2014
Just see this headline from 2013 to understand how the then Indian government deprived India of the Bamboo benefit and paved way for China to occupy the Indian market.
The Economic Times report clearly shows that the industry people had clearly pointed out the problem. It quoted a prominent person from the Agarbatti industry who said, “Despite having huge bamboo resources in the country, the industry is unable to depend on it because of cumbersome forest regulations. In certain forest areas, only tribals are allowed to cut the bamboo and we cannot employ them in adequate numbers owing to the rural employment guarantee scheme which leaves people with little incentive to work for us.”
The Change Brought by the Modi Government
Bamboo, though taxonomically a grass, was treated as tree for the purpose of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Therefore, a permit for transit of bamboo grown even outside the forests was required under provisions of the said Act. In November 2017, the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 amended the section 2(7) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 for omission of word “bamboos” from the definition of tree. This encouraged bamboo cultivation in non-forest land.
This has paved way for lot of Bamboo-centred economic activities, mainly benefiting the Northeast regions of India. These headlines in recent timeline collected from across the media themselves narrate the story.
If not for the quick policy change of the Modi government on Bamboo, the market would have still been ruled by the Chinese.