The 21st March 2011 letter of the Union Minister for Environment & Forests requested Chief Ministers to direct State Forest Departments to treat bamboo as a Minor Forest Produce and to respect the right accrued to communities as per the Scheduled Tribes and other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). Bamboo has always been treated as a ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP)’ in forestry. The term ‘Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP)’ in place of MFP was coined much later in recognition to the growing appreciation of importance and value of these forest products.
In most states harvest of NTFP including bamboo is allowed free to Joint Forest Management (JFM) Communities as one of the usufructs; and for forest dwellers vested with rights under the FRA there cannot be any less freedom in this respect. The problem in case of bamboo actually arise when it requires transportation out of the Forest Beat; because as per the Indian Forest Act, 1927, ‘Tree’ includes bamboo and a ‘fallen’ or ‘felled’ bamboo is legally ‘timber’, requiring transit pass. Treating bamboo as MFP as directed by the MoEF does not address this problem. The State Governments may instead utilize the powers vested with them under the Indian Forest Act to exempt transit pass requirement for bamboo selectively to promote intensive private bamboo farming; without waiting for the Govt. of India to declare, ‘Bamboo is not a tree.’ And, that in any case is most unlikely as the FAO definition of tree includes bamboo.
MoEF letter. http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/CM-AP.pdf