Don’t say ‘diversion’ of forest land, say ‘reforestation’, says Prakash Javadekar

Environment ministry clears 229 projects in a month, up from 217 in a quarter.

Written by Jay Mazoomdaar | New Delhi | Updated: July 29, 2015 8:37 am
Prakash Javadekar, Environment ministry, Environment projects, Prakash Javadekar BJP, forest land, reforestation, new government projects, forest land, Forest Conservation Act, afforestation, Indian express All about thinking positive, says Minister Javadekar.

Wary of the perception that his ministry is clearing too many projects too fast, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has asked ministry officials to replace the word ‘diversion’ of forest land with ‘reforestation’ in all communications.

An intra-ministry communication issued on July 16 by Javadekar’s private secretary Vinay Srivastava stated: “Hon’ble minister has desired that henceforth in all communication the word ‘Clearance’ should be replaced by ‘Approval with Adequate Environmental Safeguards’ and the word ‘Diversion’ should be replaced by ‘Reforestation’.”

Asked about it, Javadekar said: “For every diversion of forest land for a project, a condition for clearance says that compensatory afforestation on equal area of non-forest land is a must. So ultimately, it is reforestation only. This is all about thinking positive and using the right expression.”

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Until November 2014, a total of 12,05,138 hectares of forest land was diverted for different projects in the country. In October 2002, the Supreme Court directed that a Compensatory Afforestation Fund should be created with the money received from the user-agencies. But compensatory afforestation targets were not met.

In 2013, a CAG report pointed out that against the receivable non-forest land of 1,03,381.91 hectares during the period 2006-12 for compensatory afforestation, only 28,086 hectares (27 per cent) was received. Actual compensatory afforestation done over non-forest land received was 7,280.84 hectares or just 7 per cent of the requirement. Similarly, afforestation over degraded forest land was done only on 49 per cent of the required area.

Asked about the backlog, Javadekar blamed “the inefficiency” of the previous UPA government. “We have acquired 20,000 hectares of non-forest land so far for afforestation,” he said, conceding that much of this land is yet to be planted with trees. Between July and December 2014, the NDA government diverted more than 16,000 hectares of forest land in only five months.

The instruction to replace ‘diversion’ with ‘reforestation’ follows Javadekar’s comment on the monthly report of the ministry’s achievements and activities in June sent to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha by Environment Secretary Ashok Lavasa on July 9. A copy of the report was marked to Javadekar on July 10 and he wrote down the desired changes on the margins of this report.

In the monthly report, the list of the ministry’s achievements in June started with the number of projects cleared and the extent of forest land diverted. “During the month,” wrote Lavasa, “229 projects pertaining to different sectors were given clearances.” Only five projects were rejected during the month.

This was significantly higher than the rate of clearance in the first quarter of the new government when the ministry cleared a total of 217 projects in three months.

Lavasa’s June report also noted that “57 cases were approved for diversion of 2335 ha of forest land under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.” In comparison, only 1039.27 ha forest land were earmarked for compensatory afforestation during the month.

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  1. B
    Jul 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm
    Destruction of forest can surely be termed as "reforestation" to make "development" more smooth and palatable by environment conscious Indians! I am not sure if these morons and their pet "scientists" even know that new planted (man made) forests can NEVER be the same (in quality and utility) as compared to natural forest- so far flora and fauna are concerned.
    1. Onyx Cleaner
      Jul 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm
      Whom are we cheating..? It is ourselves. Politicians whose sons and daughters have settled abroad and who have no care about our environment should be disqualified to run for office
      1. P
        Jul 31, 2015 at 6:58 pm
        Shamelessness and arrogance at its best..
        1. A
          Ajay Bidikar
          Jul 30, 2015 at 4:44 pm
          Shri. Prakash Javadekar is the undisputed winner of 'India's Most Ignorant Illiterate Minister'. One more senseless, reckless and extremely ill-informed statement from India's Environment Minister! Does he even understand what reforestation is all about? Any schools willing to tutor this gentleman for his ignorance & illiteracy ??? 😡😡😡
          1. A
            Jul 29, 2015 at 5:19 pm
            Disgusting to say the least! In the name of development, pristine forests are being destro. In the name of afforestation (if and when that happens), they end up planting trees like teak that will again give revenue when cut down. The countless species of flora and fauna that are lost, are lost forever. Planting one species of trees - essentially a plantation is not going to replace the lost biodiversity. Already we have devastating droughts in many parts of our country. You chop down the forest and plant saplings, where will the rain come from for the saplings to grow? Provide education to the millions, support the growth and sustenance of agriculture, improve and provide health and sanitation to the millions who are in need of it, increase forest cover, support existing industries and develop them, maintain existing highways and roads before cutting down forests to make new ones. All this to give your buddies in construction and mining extra cash in their pockets and thereby yours. Focus of the millions instead of the creme de la creme.
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