The National Assembly continued their deliberations on the Forest and Nature Conservation Bill today. The house decided to repeal three sections regarding Forestry officials’ power to seize, confiscate livestock, vehicles, equipment and machinery used during forest offences, and conditions on the allotment of timber from State Reserved Forest Land along the roads.
During the deliberation, the Finance Minister said since the section is about the power to seize and confiscate forest produce, a section on what is used to transport the produce is not necessary.
Section 26 states that the livestock used for transportation of illegal forest produce shall be seized and released upon completion of registration of the offence.
“When the animals are confiscated, it’s a problem if the animals are not fed and given water on time. I feel having the section does not have any extra benefit,” said Finance Minister, Namgay Tshering.
Khamaed Lunana MP Yeshey Dem said confiscating animals is also financially exhausting to the government.
“It is mostly horses and yaks and sometimes elephants are used in the south. But the numbers are huge. So when the animals are confiscated and kept till the case is registered, the forestry office has to bear all the expenses to feed the animals,” she said.
Similarly, members also suggested removing section 27 pertaining to the power of forestry officials to confiscate any vehicle, equipment or machinery used in the commission of a forest offence.
“I feel confiscating vehicles or machinery is not important here. What is important is to find and penalise the offenders,” said Kinga Penjor, the Gangzur Minjey MP.
The House decided to repeal the two sections with a majority of the show of hands.
The House also repealed the existing provision to allow the allotment of timber from State Reserved Forest Land along the roads except under certain conditions such as critical ecological sites, landslide-prone areas, and risk of damaging roads and bridges and significant landmarks and heritage sites.
The House also directed the Environment and Climate Change Committee to revisit section 24 under the power to seize and confiscate forest produce for amendment and report back to the House. The House will deliberate the remaining provisions at an appropriate time in this session.
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen