NEW DELHI: The Union Environment Ministry has relaxed norms of forest clearance for national highway projects, allowing state agencies to take up compensatory afforestation in degraded forest land instead of non-forest land, as per existing rules.
The NHAI, under the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH), wanted a relaxation in forest clearance rules to seemingly skip finding non-forest land for compensatory afforestation (CA) while forest land was diverted for development of highway infrastructure.
“It has been decided that MoRTH/Central agencies will be entered as a ‘user agency’ in the online application form in such cases, where work that is of central sector projects and is owned, developed and maintained by the central government but the execution is carried out by a state agency. As the user agency is the central government or a PSU, the dispensation of CA over double the degraded forest land, instead of equivalent non-forest land will be available in such cases,” said an order.
The forest advisory committee of the environment ministry in May considered and observed that the scope of expansion of this dispensation for CA, as decided in the meeting of Group of Infrastructure (GoI), needs proper understanding of the process of execution of infrastructure work by the NHAI in states.