1,000 roads in Kumaon await forest clearance

PITHORAGARH: A large number of villages in the Kumaon region are still without road connectivity as over 1,000 sanctioned roads in rural areas in Bageshwar and Almora districts have not been given forest clearance or their estimated construction cost has risen considerably.

BD Kasniyal

Pithoragarh, May 25

A large number of villages in the Kumaon region are still without road connectivity as over 1,000 sanctioned roads in rural areas in Bageshwar and Almora districts have not been given forest clearance or their estimated construction cost has risen considerably.

“Some roads have not been constructed due to lack of forest clearance and other hurdles such as incomplete surveys and drafting, non-approval of proposals by District Magistrates and BDOs, divisional forest officers and other nodal officers of state or Union governments. Though these are approved road projects, local authorities are not giving the necessary clearances for these,” said Himanshu Joshi, Chief Development Officer, Bageshwar.

According to sources, of the total 1,080 roads that were to be constructed in Bageshwar and Almora districts in the last more than 14 years after the formation of Uttarakhand, the departments concerned were yet to conduct surveys for 253 roads while the Forest Department was yet to give clearance for 560 rural roads. “Due to the indifferent attitude of the nodal departments, even roads with all clearances have not been constructed,” said sources in the Public Works Department, Almora.

They said relaxations announced by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry a year ago were not working effectively as the process of online clearance was not easy. “We have decided to review the situation to speed up the construction of rural roads,” said Ajay Tamta, Almora MP.

Tamta added though the state government was quick in giving the necessary approval, rural roads could not be constructed in the absence forest clearance from the Union Environment Ministry. “We need to develop a system that can ensure forest clearances within 100 days of getting a road proposal from a state,” said Tamta.

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