MHA approves forest land diversion to fight Maoists
To expedite the creation of road infrastructure in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts to enable the security forces to effectively combat Maoists, the Home Ministry has extended general approval under the Forest Conservation (FC) Act of 1980 for diversion of forestlands to construct all categories of public roads, except those falling in the protected areas, irrespective of the area of the forestland involved in 117 LWE districts, according to a press release issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on Tuesday.
These 117 districts are spread over several States. While Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar are considered severely affected, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are considered partially affected. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are considered slightly affected.
Further, relaxation under the FC Act has been extended for diversion of forestland from the present one hectare to five hectares for execution of “public utility projects of 15 specified categories” in LWE districts.
According to the release, these categories are schools, dispensaries, hospitals, medical colleges, electrical and telecommunication lines, drinking water, non-conventional sources of energy, skill upgradation, power sub-stations etc.
All categories of public roads, including communication posts, police establishments like stations, outposts, border outposts, watch towers in sensitive areas [identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs], underground laying of optical fibre cables, telephone lines etc. are also included.