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Himachal Govt to expedite forest land diversion for developmental works

The move aims at accelerating the developmental works by ensuring timely approval and streamlining the process.

Himachal Govt to expedite forest land diversion for developmental works

Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu [File Photo: ANI]

Recognising the delays in obtaining forest clearances for developmental projects, the Himachal Pradesh government has taken decisive action to expedite the process of forest land diversion.

The move aims at accelerating the developmental works by ensuring timely approval and streamlining the process.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu emphasised that this initiative would not only save cost but also benefit the general public. He further said that district-level committees had been formed to facilitate forest clearances, and regular meetings were being held to expedite construction for developmental projects.

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The chief minister highlighted the state government’s strong advocacy of various Forest Conservation Act (FCA) cases with the Government of India (GoI). In the month of June alone, the GoI has granted Stage-II approval in 29 cases, and the state government has issued formal orders favoring the user agency for the diversion of forest land in these cases. In the past six months, the state government has recommended over 110 cases to the central government.

These cases encompass different departments, including Public Works, Police, Jal Shakti, NHAI, education, agriculture, ITBP, Municipal Corporation Shimla, Sainik Welfare, Home Guard, health, and Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board. In total, the state government has issued formal orders in 46 cases over the past six months, signifying significant progress in facilitating development.

Additionally, in the previous month, the state government forwarded 32 new proposals for forest land diversion under the Forest (Conservation) Act, seeking in-principle (stage-I) approval from the GoI. These proposals encompass road construction, electricity, four-lane construction, water supply, security initiatives, tourism, solar projects, and ropeways.

The chief minister reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to expediting developmental works and highlighted that in the last six months, the state government has recommended over 110 cases for stage-I approval from the central government.

Himachal Pradesh has approximately 68 per cent of its total area legally classified as forest area, falling under the purview of the Forest (Protection) Act of 1980. The state government requires prior approval from the GoI under Section-2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA) for most proposed development projects. The entire approval process is conducted online through the Parivesh portal of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

Recognising the significance of these cases for the overall development of the state, Chief Minister Sukhu and the Principal Secretary Forest are personally monitoring the progress of these initiatives. Their efforts aim to ensure that developmental projects proceed efficiently while maintaining environmental sustainability.

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