ET Bureau Jul 19, 2013,
(The exemption is being given…)
NEW DELHI: In a bid to speed up development in naxal-affected areas, the environment ministry has decided to exempt public infrastructure projects from seeking forest clearance in 35 additional districts. In May 2011 the ministry said public infrastructure projects like schools, health centres, roads, bridges would not require clearance under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, if it did not affect more than five hectares of forests. In December 2012, the exemption was extended to all 82 districts identified by the home ministry and Planning Commission for the implementation of the Integrated Action Plan.
The decision to extend it to 35 additional Naxal affected districts comes on the back of representations from the home ministry. The exemption is being given for critical public utility infrastructure of 13 categories and all categories of public roads and quarrying of materials used in the construction of roads. As long as the diversion is less than 5 hectares, the state is authorised to grant approvals, and need not send the applications to the environment ministry and the Forest Advisory Committee for approval. The 35 districts are spread across six states.


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