NEW DELHI: Keeping in mind India’s strategic interests, the forest panel of the environment ministry has recommended approval for diversion of about 52 hectares of forest to the Army for its infrastructure needs on the India-China border.The proposal was discussed in a meeting of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) last month. The minutes of the meeting note that as per Indian Army representatives, “the proposed forest land for diversion is in close proximity to the Indo-China international border falling from the north district of Sikkim, and is extremely important from the national strategic and security point of view”.
Of the 52 hectares, the Army has been in possession of approximately 10 hectares since before Sikkim was incorporated into India in 1975, and it has been using the land for “safeguarding international border and strategic purposes”.
The project does not involve displacement of any human population or felling of trees. It, however, may affect 5,500 pole-size trees, 12,500 shrubs and 14,150 herbs.Army representatives told the FAC members that the land “would be beneficial to the Indian Army to meet up their immediate requirements from the security point of view and national interest.”
“The Indian Army troops in that region are to control anti-social and anti-national activities and to tackle situations that may arise across the border at any point of time,” they told the FAC members.The FAC recommended forest clearance for diversion of the forest while holding that compensatory afforestation (CA) would be done over 105 hectares of degraded forest land in Sikkim and at least 1,000 plants would be planted per hectare.
“Twenty-five per cent of the cost of CA will be deposited in addition to the CA cost for soil and moisture conservation works at CA site. The wildlife will be protected by the Army personnel deployed in this establishment,” the minutes say.
Army to carry out afforestation
• 10 hectares of the 52 hectares already in possession of Army since before Sikkim became a part of India in 1975
• Project does not involve felling trees, but it may affect 5,500 pole-size trees, 12,500 shrubs and 14,150 herbs
• Compensatory afforestation will be done by the Army on 105 hectares of degraded forest land in Sikkim. At least 1,000 plants will be planted per hectare