Infrastructure projects swallow 36,000-hectare forest

The land was used for roads, railway lines and other projects

New Delhi: The federal government last year approved diversion of 35,867 hectares of forest land to build roads, railway lines and other infrastructure projects.

The government shared the forest diversion figures on Tuesday in parliament and said the maximum forest land (9,830 hectares) was diverted in Madhya Pradesh. Odisha came second with 4,516, followed by Andhra Pradesh (3,334) Chhattisgarh (3,236), Jharkhand (2,989) and Maharashtra (2,380).

However, states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Pondicherry, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep converted no forest land last year, the reported.

Responding to a different query on whether the tribal affairs ministry had raised objections to the dilution of forest law, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar, in his written response, said, “The process of inter­ministerial consultation is still going on.”

He said the environment ministry has formulated revised draft guidelines on ensuring compliance with the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in cases of diversion of forest land for non­forest purpose under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

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