Chapter 5: Misuse of Forest - Crime and Punishments


Pramila Khadanga
Binayak Acharya Government College, Berhampur, Odisha – 760007, India


Using something beyond the socially or legally preset barriers may be considered as its misuse. Until something is viewed as improper, being detrimental to the interest of the society as a whole or restricted with the effects of a promulgated law either explicitly or implicitly, that may not be called as misuse. Such acts or practices shall rather be considered for the time being as ‘use’ and not as ‘misuse’. Collection of forest produce, grazing of cattle, extermination of wild carnivores and even shifting cultivation in an era of underdeveloped tools to clear up the land; all such acts in historical perspectives were once felt to be essential for sustenance of the human race and could not be branded as ‘misuse’ in any sense as those were later on portraited after the British, with their superlative legislative skill started making laws over the subjects, primarily for their own imperial objectives. Before the British annexation, forest resources were abundant at least in the hilly terrains of south Odisha in contrast to the need of the people, sparsely inhibiting in the areas. In absence of communication or logistic, its density was well maintained by nature until the same was subject to mass scale harnessing by the British themselves for different purposes or for getting revenue out of the normal practices of the tribals like grazing, fishing or collection of firewood. All such acts were rapidly covered under the restrictive covenants under the garb of protection, conservation and management of forest resources and manifested in the form of different statutes on the relevant subjects of forest, wildlife and minerals. The concept of ‘misuse’ was an outcome of such legal provisions which emerged with its associated terms like legal prosecution for violation of a set of formulated laws.

South Odisha
October 10, 2023