SC okays diversion of forest land for 138 big projects in Himachal

SC okays diversion of forest land for 138 big projects in Himachal

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 15

The Supreme Court today gave clearance to 138 projects, including several hydro and one hybrid electric projects, involving diversion of 614 hectares in Himachal Pradesh that had been hanging fire for several years.

3-judge bench order

  • 614 hectare forest land will be diverted for 138 development projects
  • 122 hectare additional forest land can be diverted for 289 other projects, subject to certain conditions

A three-judge Green Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde gave the green signal for 289 other projects involving diversion of 122 hectare forest land subject to certain conditions. Under an earlier verdict of the top court, permission of the Green Bench is needed for diversion of forest land for any other purpose.

The order covers diversion of forest land for construction of an Indian Institute of Technology, a degree college, schools, hospitals, roads, community and anganwari centres and other development projects. With regard to 96 other projects, it said,

“The DFO concerned is permitted to process, examine and decide the grant of permission and if permission is so granted, such projects can be implemented and allowed to commence and complete.”

The Bench, which also included Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian, also gave the go-ahead to Rs 1,337-crore Green Corridor National Highway project of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. It also gave approval for the construction of two-lane NH 20A (new NH 503) at a cost of Rs 61.48 crore.

While the first highway project involved a diversion of around 50 hectare forest land the second one would require a diversion of more than seven hectares.

The state government had moved five applications praying for various reliefs, including the diversion of forest land to small extents for the purpose of carrying out certain public welfare projects.

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