22 Red districts get green nod to divert forest land for infra

Twenty-two Naxal-affected districts will now be able to build critical public infrastructure even in forestland, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided. Following demands raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Planning Commission, the MoEF has decided to relax forest conservation rules to allow diversion of forestland for creation of essential infrastructure in 22 districts affected by Left Wing Extremism.

Departments will be able to build public infrastructure of 13 kinds even in forested areas in up to five hectares area in these districts identified by the MHA and the Planning Commission for implementation of the Integrated Action Plan, said MoEF sources.

The MoEF had in 2011 relaxed norms under Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, for diversion of forestland for infrastructure building in 60 Naxal-hit districts. In an order dated December 10, 2012, the ministry has accorded general approval for another 22 districts.

The districts of Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, Waranagal, Karimnagar, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh, Munger, Kaimur, Sitamarhi and West Chamaparan in Bihar, Khunti, Ranchi (rural) and Giridh in Jharkhand, Ganjam, Nayagarh and Jajpur in Orissa, Chandauli and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, Bankura and Purulia in West Bengal, and Chindwara and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh now have the green nod for various categories of infrastructure building.

The 13 categories of public utility infrastructure include construction of school buildings, anganwadi centres, drinking water facilities, rural roads, panchayat bhawans/ community halls, godowns/PDS shops and health centres.

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