NEW DELHI: With the NDA government focusing on infrastructure development, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is coming up with set of rules for allowing construction of linear projects like roads, railway tracks, transmission lines and canals in the periphery of protected areas like tiger reserve and wildlife sanctuaries.
The environment ministry has roped in Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to compile a set of details on the mitigation measures which are practices around the world in linear projects. The rules are set to be presented during a two-day conference which will see participation of all states starting Friday.
“It will be helpful for the state Forest Departments and Governments for consideration and counseling the project proponents at the project formulation stage itself, to avoid environmental complexities in the regulatory process and for facilitating faster decision making in it,” said a senior ministry official.
Nearly 5 percent of country’s geographical area is designated as protected which covers tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Construction around 10 km of the protected area is restricted but linear projects get some relaxation.
“In the present scenario of infrastructure development as main tenet of sustainable development and growth of the country, the legal instruments of conservation like environment clearance, forest clearance and consultation with state or national Boards of Wildlife have a high responsibility of taking well considered decisions on the costs benefits of development activities with respect to environmental sustainability,” said the official.
According to ministry, this becomes more important when such activities are proposed to be expansions of the already existing infrastructure located within or near the Protected Areas.
“As a policy and commitment to environmental stability, new projects of any kind are avoided within or near wildlife areas. However, location specificity or inevitability sometimes warrant appropriate mitigation measures for counter balancing the probable negative impacts on habitats,” the official further said.