Allaying apprehensions that green nod is being speeded up at the cost of environment, government today asserted that no forest clearance is given unless there is a plan in place to compensate the forest cover.
Stressing that there is "no tearing hurry" to give forest clearances, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar told Lok Sabha that approvals would not be given at the cost of impacting forest growth. "We are not giving permission (for forest clearances for projects) unless there is a plan in place for compensating the forest cover," he said during Question Hour.
The new government has decided to delink environmental and forest clearances for linear projects like highways. The delinking of these approvals would allow execution of projects on non-forest land without waiting for forest clearance. Meanwhile, considering the importance of developmental works in critical and sensitive border areas, the Ministry has taken steps to simplify and expedite the process of granting clearances.
Among others, the Ministry has given a relaxation to strategic projects in border regions, in the area falling within 100 km aerial distance of the LAC, to raise and maintain compensatory afforestation over an equivalent degraded forest land instead of double the degraded forest land.
During the last one year, 56 proposals under the Forest Conservation Act and 11 projects under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification for roads and public utility sectors were granted clearance in hilly states.