November 16, 2013 3:31:25 am
The proposal for a longer and arguably more realistic timeline for clearance to projects needing forest land has two key ministries up in arms. The Ministry of Power and Ministry of Coal are opposing the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) move to double the 150-day limit for processing forest clearance proposals to 300 days for projects involving diversion of over 100 hectare forest land.
The two ministries have repeatedly attributed delays in projects to cumbersome procedures in seeking green clearance. The Jayanthi Natarjan-led MoEF has decided to amend Forest Conservation Rules to usher in more realistic limits that can be met,and which allow more time to both the State and the Centre to assess projects that need forest clearance.
The draft rules were circulated to all concerned ministries. The power and coal ministries argued that it will only delay clearances further and hold back projects.
The draft rules proposed 140 days for smaller projects needing up to 5 hectare land.
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The present blanket rule asks states to examine and recommend fresh forest clearance proposals within 90 days (3 months) of receipt of the proposal from the user agency and for the Centre to reject/approve it within 60 days,but the process is said to drag on,for even two years or more.
The proposed rules have timelines depending on land. Total time including the procedures at the State and Central levels,sets a 140-day limit for processing forest land diversion up to 5ha,and 300 days for projects involving diversion of over 100 hectare of forest land.
A project involving diversion of 5ha,will thus be processed faster than one involving over 100ha. The proposed rules suggest detailed and tiered (for diversion of 5ha,5ha-40ha,40ha-100ha and over 100ha) timeline at each level from the state to the Centre including transit period,so the time frame is realistic and workable.
The proposed rules say that in case a state government exceeds the stipulated timeline,it will have to explain the delay,and details of action taken against the individual responsible and only then will the Centre consider the proposal.
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