NEW DELHI: To achieve target of open defecation free India by 2019 under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Union environment ministry has now given general approval for diversion of forest land upto one hectare area in both rural and urban areas for construction of community toilets.
The ministry has directed to give general approval under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 for construction of government approved community toilets on land involving partly or fully the forest lands not exceeding 1 hectare subject to approval of gram panchayat in rural areas and urban local body in urban areas to utilise the forest land.
The move comes after Maharashtra government approached the Centre seeking general approval under Section 2 of FC, Act for diversion of forest land for construction of toilets for the benefit of people.
However, the general prior approval is not extended to forest land in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries and other protected areas under Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Centre has kept an ambitious target of making India open defecation free by 2019 under Swachh Bharat Mission and toilets have been constructed in both urban and rural areas.
The general approval shall be subject to the condition that the diversion is need based and divisional forest officer shall assess the bare minimum requirement of the forest land for the project. The legal status of the land diverted shall remain unchanged and will be notified as forest area.
“The approval is subject to the no-objection certificate issued by competent authority under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forests Rights) Act, 2006,” said an order issued by the ministry.
To cut down the time, states have been asked to get general approval collectively for all proposed toilets on forest land less than 1 hectare by applying online specifying the location, lay out plan and area in each case.