92,000 hectare of forests opened by MoEF & CC

Oct 9, 2017, 04:03 IST

NAGPUR: In the last one year the MoEF has recommended the diversion of 91,798 hectare area (918 sqkm) towards 70 projects, when there are serious concerns raised for the environment and climate change.

Among the major proposals that were cleared included the controversial river linking Ken-Betwa main project which had diversion of 6,017 hectare of forest land in favour of National Water Development Agency (NWDA), in Chhattarpur near Panna and Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh.

The Environment Impact Assessment Resource and Response Centre (ERC) (Delhi-based facility) revealed that in May, 61,278 hectare (613 sqkm) was recommended in one meeting alone.

Pushp Jain of the ERC said "FAC seems to be in a tearing hurry to divert forest land. This can be gauged from the fact that in August, three meetings were held to clear projects involving 15,027 hectare area. Interestingly, the compilation of area excludes proposals up to 40 hectare which are dealt with at the regional level."

Jain said the project is going to cause irreparable damage to Panna Tiger Reserve. "The project is simply senseless as no account of alternative sites was considered and study does not recommend the project," he said.

ERC had opposed Ken-Betwa proposals as they are illegal in nature as per the section 35 (6) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and a great loss of forest and wildlife.

ERC's Terence Jorge said the recommended projects do not include 695.72 hectare forest land for limestone mining at Shedwai in Chandrapur district. "But this was done owing to legal complications and not considering the area which falls in the Tadoba-Kawal tiger corridor," he said.