Government proposes to amend forest conservation law to exempt strategic projects from land use authorization
New Delhi, October 5 (PTI) The Environment Ministry has proposed to amend the Forest Conservation Act to remove the requirement for prior government approval for the development of border infrastructure on forest lands, saying this delays the implementation of critical projects.
The ministry has solicited suggestions from states, Union territories and all concerned on the proposed changes to the law, within the next 15 days.
“The development of infrastructure along international border areas is crucial to keep our borders intact and to maintain the sovereignty of the country.
“Given the current scenario of obtaining approval for non-forest use of forest land, many times strategic and security projects of national importance are delayed, resulting in a setback in the development of such infrastructure. in critical locations, ”the ministry noted while proposing to exempt such projects from obtaining prior central government approval under the law.
He also proposed to allow states to authorize the non-forest use of forest land for the implementation of these strategic and security projects which must be completed within a specified time frame.
The ministry also plans to exempt from prior government approval land acquired before 1980, when the FCA was established, noting that it has aroused resentment in public sector bodies, including the railways and the county. of public works (PWD).
“There is strong resentment within the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways, etc. for the interpretation of the scope of the Law on the right-of-way of railways, highways, etc.
“In most cases, these rights-of-way would have been formally acquired by these development organizations well before 1980, for the specific purpose of constructing / establishing a railway line and roads. Part of the land was used for the purpose of which it was acquired before 1980 and the remaining part of the land acquired was left as it is for future constructions / extensions ”, noted the ministry.
He said that the trees or forests existing on the remaining acquired land were therefore left as such (before 1980) and the virgin areas were planted under different government programs.
“With the enactment of the law and further clarification of its scope by the Supreme Court, all of these lands require prior central government approval for non-forest use.
“So a land agency (Rail, NHAI, PWD, etc.) these lands that were initially acquired for non-forestry purposes. The ministry is now considering exempting such land acquired before October 25, 1980 from the scope of the law, ”the ministry said.
Under the FCA, central government approval is required before any state or UT order on the diversion, removal from reserve, and lease-back of any forest land or land use. forestry for non-forestry activities.
Noting that there have been several violations of the provisions of the law, the ministry said it will tighten the sentence to deter breaches of the law. He proposed that offenses be recognized by knowledge and not subject to bail, and carry a simple jail term for a period of up to one year.
The document also proposes to remove zoos, safaris, forestry training infrastructures from the definition of “non-forestry” activities.
“It is understood that activities incidental to the conservation of forests and wildlife should not be considered as non-forestry activities. As a result, it was proposed that the establishment of zoos, safaris, forestry training facilities, etc. meaning of “non-forestry activity” for the purposes of section 2 (ii) of the law, “he said. PTI AG SMN
Disclaimer: – This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI