The Odisha government has decided to implement the land bank concept for compensatory afforestation (CA) programme in lieu of the diverted forest for maintaining ecological balance over the years.
The state government had earlier implemented the land bank scheme for industrial infrastructure development purposes to provide hassle-free land to industries.
The authorities concerned have been directed to identify appropriate land for compensatory afforestation. The land identified for land bank should be permissible and appropriate for compensatory afforestation.
The land categories like the degraded revenue forest, patara jungle, jhada jungle etc would be ideal for CA, Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra who presided over a high-level meeting said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the government has also decided to develop a full proof online software through which the forest diversion proposals could be dealt with right from the time of initiation to the final sanction and issue of the certificates.
The government is intent on making use of the latest provisions of forest laws for expeditious implementation of the critical infrastructure and development projects, Chief Secretary Mahapatra said.
Forest department officers are very much a part of the developmental process; and, they should be properly oriented and apprised about the recent permissive provisions of the law that allow lying of infrastructure projects and other developmental interventions in the forest land, he said.
The government departments have been directed to circulate a simplified guideline with frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers among the district and field level officers of both the forest and user departments.
The authorities concerned were also asked to organize regular orientation programmes of the forest and revenue officers and update them about the latest position of the law regarding the development of the critical socio-economic infrastructure.
Around 13 types of essential projects could be approved under the latest Forest Rights Act. These included schools, dispensaries, fair price shops, electric and telecommunication lines, tanks, drinking water projects, minor irrigation projects, canals, water harvesting structures, clean energy, skill training centre, roads, and community centers. Permission of the use of forest land to the extent of one hectare would be given by the Divisional Forest Officers.