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86,000 hectares of shrub forest may be freed up for development

Centre gives in-principle nod to the state government.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur | November 9, 2013 5:38:56 am

The Centre has agreed in-principle to the Maharashtra government’s proposal seeking release of about 86,000 hectares of land currently described as under zudpi jungle (shrub forest) in government records from forest clearance stipulations for various existing,stuck-up and proposed developmental projects.

Maharashtra has about 1.80 lakh hectares of land under zudpi jungle,entirely in Nagpur,Chandrapur,Gadchiroli,Bhandara and Gondia districts of Vidarbha. Any project to be undertaken there needs clearance from Union Environment Ministry under Forest Conservation Act (FCA). As a result,a number of development projects,including some irrigation projects,are stuck. The issue has been hanging fire for several years now.

“Last year,we proposed to the Centre that of the total land under zudpi jungle,32,000 hectares are less than three hectares in continuity. They hardly have any vegetation. Over 54,000 hectares are already under some use like roads,hospital,school building,cultivation,etc. The available patches are proposed to be freed up and diverted for development projects while the rest 94,000 heactares can be notified as reserved forest and made available for afforestation against any projects to be undertaken on the 32,000 hectares currently lying unused,” Principal Secretary (Forest) Pravin Pardeshi told The Indian Express.

“Currently,these are virtually uncared-for,no-man’s lands just because they are described as forest in some government record or other. The proposal could make a big difference for many proposed projects that are stuck,” he added.

“A state-Centre meeting was held Thursday to discuss the issue and the Centre accepted the idea in-principle,” Pardeshi said.

“We also proposed that a Central office to grant FCA clearances be set up in Nagpur for speedy clearance. That idea too has been well received,” Pardeshi added.

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