Chief Minister, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said that the state government had expedited the forest land diversion process to speed up developmental works by ensuring timely approval. The initiative would not only save the exchequer but facilitate the public at large.
Taking cognizance of unnecessary delays in various forest clearances for developmental works, the state government had taken concrete steps to streamline the process. District Level committees were constituted for forest clearances and regular meetings of the same are being held to expedite construction for developmental works.
The Chief Minister said that the state government had strongly advocated the Government of India (GoI) about various FCA cases. GoI has given Stage-II approval in 29 cases in the June month alone and formal orders in favour of the user agency regarding diversion of forest land were also issued by the state government. There are 11 cases from the Public Works Department, 4 cases from the Police Department, as well as two each project of Jal Shakti, NHAI, education and agriculture departments and one each of ITBP, Municipal Corporation Shimla, Sainik Welfare, Home Guard, health, Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board. In total, the state government has issued formal orders in 46 cases over the past six months, marking significant progress in facilitating development, he added.
Moreover, in the last month, the state government has recommended 32 new proposals for forest land diversion under the Forest (Conservation) Act which were sent for in-principle (stage-I) approval from GoI. These include 19 cases of road construction, 2 cases each for electricity, four-lane construction and other projects alongside proposals for water supply, security initiatives, tourism, solar projects and ropeways etc.
The Chief Minister said that the government’s unwavering commitment to accelerating developmental works is evident in these endeavors and over the last six months, the state government has recommended more than 110 cases and were sent for stage-I approval from the GoI.
Almost 68 percent of the total area of the state is legally classified as forest area, which falls under the Forest (Protection) Act, 1980. The state government mandates prior approval from the Government of India under Section-2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA) for most of the proposed development projects. The entire approval process is online and all the cases are processed through the Parivesh portal of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. In view of the significance of such cases in all-round development of the state, time-to-time monitoring is being done by the Chief Minister himself and Principal Secretary Forest.