Online portal to clear land request for non-forestry activities

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Anur Reddy has said online submission of applications by user agency seeking forest land for non-forestry activities is mandatory.

Speaking at a workshop for stakeholders on submission of applications online seeking clearance under Forest Conservation Act 1980 here on Tuesday, he said online forest clearance portal will deal with approval of any project for diversion of forest land for non-forestry activities.

Earlier, it was taking a lot of time in the absence of transparency. After July 15, 2014, a total of 2,942 applications have been submitted by the user agencies in the country, of which, 491 applications are under examination. A total of 1,222 proposals have been returned to user agency due to shortcoming. A total of 1,229 applications have been accepted by Nodal Officers.

In Karnataka, 86 proposals have been submitted and 12 have been approved by the nodal officer. Three proposals are pending at DCF with one in Madikeri and two in Ballari.

Applications seeking prior approval of central government under the Forest Conservation (FC) Act will be accepted only online. Offline applications will be rejected. The new online system for forest clearance is expected to bring transparency in the approval, which was often blamed for delaying development projects. This also allows applicants to keep a tab on the entire process, he added.

He said before Forest Conservation Act came into existence, a total of 1,97,738 hectare forest land was diverted for non forestry activities. After October 25, 1980, a total of 28,614.11 hectare land has been diverted in Karnataka. Compensatory of afforestation has been taken up on 25,307.18 hectare land. About 21.5 per cent of forest land has been used for mining, 16.61 per cent for transmission of lines, 11.31 per cent for hydel power projects. To use one hectare of evergreen forest land, user agency have to pay net present value of Rs 10 lakh. If one wants one hectare of land in National Park, then he will have to pay 10 times the net present value, to ensure that National Park is protected.

Reddy said the department programmes is made available online in order to maintain a cordial relationship with the public.

Speaking at the workshop on ‘Forest Conservation Act-1980’, he said the forest department would not create problems for development projects. He said programmes of the department and rules and regulations are clearly prescribed online to avoid confusions. 

He said he is the nodal officer appointed by the forest Secretariat  and is in charge of the single window evidence for the document processing in connection with the forest land required for development projects.  Asserting that the priority of the department would be the conservation of forest land, the officer said the department is committed  for the protection of environment and forest.

He said the department would not pose any problem or delay the development projects taken up by Mescom or the irrigation department. He said there are some solution as the result of the attempt made by the department in connection with the deemed forest issue. He said the department would take decision in favour, if the development project is inevitable and there is no scope for the destruction of forest land. He said measures would be taken to build alternative forest cover.

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