Diversion of forest land

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Diversion of forest land

The Government has released the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Annual Report 2019-20.

Diversion of forest land

  • Diversion of forest land in India is governed by the provisions under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA).
  • As per the FCA, any diversion of land for non-forest purposes has to be pre-approved by the Advisory Committee instituted under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
    • Proposals seeking diversion of forest land upto 40 hectares are processed by regional offices of MoEFCC under the instituted Regional Empowered Committees (REC).
    • Proposals that pertain to diversion of land greater than 40 hectares are sent directly to the central ministry.

What about the local communities?

  • To recognise the rights of local communities whose livelihoods are inextricably linked to the forest lands they inhabit, the central government enacted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, more commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
  • The Act aims to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.

Key-highlights of the Report

  • The diversion of forest land for other purposes continued throughout India.
  • A total 11,467.83 hectares (114.68 square kilometre) forest lands were diverted in 22 states between January 1 and November 6, 2019.
  • This diversion was for 932 non-forestry projects under the Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA), 1980.
  • More than a third of the diversion (4,514 ha) was for 14 projects was in Odisha, followed by Telangana — 2,055 ha for 11 projects — and Jharkhand (869.99 ha for 11 projects).
  • The most number of projects — 251 — were in Haryana, which led to the diversion of 519.53 ha. Madhya Pradesh diverted 795.36 ha for 220 projects.
StateNumber of ProjectsTotal Forest Land approved for diversion (in ha)
Andhra Pradesh337.82
Himachal Pradesh52434.36
Madhya Pradesh220795.36
Tamil Nadu618.45
Uttar Pradesh163.27
West Bengal2102.33
  • The annual report also gave the category-wise details of the divisions. The largest area of forest land was diverted for irrigation and mining projects.
    • Irrigation projects: Twenty-four irrigation projects led to the diversion of 4,287.50 ha
    • Mining projects: 22 mining projects led to the diversion of 3,846.09 ha of forest land.
    • Construction project: Other than this, 227 road construction projects also led to the diversion of 1,487.82.

What is Forest Cover?

  • Forest cover includes land that is larger than 0.01 sq km, or one hectare, and has a tree canopy density of more than 10%, notwithstanding the legal status of the land.
  • “Recorded forest area” by the FSI includes land that is legally considered a forest, as per government records, regardless of the actual canopy density.

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