Environment nod for developing strategic border projects

Environment nod for developing strategic border projects

Giving fresh impetus to improve strategic border projects, the Environment Ministry has given in-principle approval for diversion of land for constructing roads, bridges and setting up of surveillance equipment within five km from the International Border and 100 km from LAC.

The decision was conveyed by Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who had suggested exemption of environment clearance given to infrastructure projects falling within 100 km from Line of Control, Line of Actual Control(LAC) and International Border.

In his letter, Javadekar said paramilitary organisations like Border Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal being the first line of defence along the IB, most of their installations such as border roads, fencing, Border Out Posts, floodlights, surveillance and power infrastructure are required to be created along or near the IB.

"This Ministry, therefore, agrees in-principle to grant general approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of forest land for creation of border security related infrastructure within five kilometres aerial distance from the IB," he said.

Due to the inhospitable terrain along the Line of Actual Control, installations of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police deployed along the LAC as first line defence, are required to be created at far away distance from the LAC.

For this too, the Environment Ministry has accorded general approval under the Forest Conservation Act for diversion of forest land required for infrastructure development upto 100 kms from LAC.

For grant of general approval for diversion of forest land required for creation of other strategic installations of the Armed Forces within 100 km aerial distance from the LAC, the Environment Ministry has requested the Ministry of Defence to identify strategic defence infrastructure-related activities which are to be taken up and submit the list.

"As far as grant of general approval under the FC Act for creation of security related installations within 100 km from LoC by the BSF is concerned, question of the same does not arise as provisions of the FC Act do not extend to Jammu and Kashmir," the letter said.

In his August 29 letter, the Home Minister had said that there was a need to deal with the issue of delay in according environment, forest and wildlife clearances in a comprehensive manner.

"All strategic border projects falling within 100 km from IB, LAC and LoC may be fully exempted from obtaining environment/forest/wildlife clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the State/Union Territory governments," Singh had written to Javadekar.

The suggestions were part of the recommendations of an inter-ministerial group set up by the Home Ministry on how to get quick and time bound environment, forest and wildlife clearances as well as suggest any other dispensation or institutional mechanism required for the same.

China is known for developing its border infrastructure extensively and its wide network of roads have reached just across the border.

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