New Delhi, December 7
In the past five years, 90,000 hectares of forest land have been diverted for non-forestry purposes, the Union Environment Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha today.
The data pertains to the period from January 2018 to March 2023. Any use of forest land other than for the purpose of afforestation falls under the category of “non-forestry purposes”.
Madhya Pradesh tops the chart
- Irrigation, mining, road construction and defence projects were the major sectors for which forest land was diverted
- MP saw the highest diversion of forest land with 19,730.36 hectares, followed by Odisha at 13,304.79 hectares
Irrigation, mining, road construction and defence projects were the major sectors for which forest land was diverted. According to the statistics shared by the ministry, of the 90,000 hectares of forest land, 13,346.82 hectares were diverted for irrigation, 18,790.18 hectares for mining, 19,496.76 hectares for road construction and 7,630.81 hectares for defence projects across the country.
Madhya Pradesh witnessed the highest diversion of forest land with 19,730.36 hectares followed by Odisha 13,304.79 hectares, Uttar Pradesh (4,090.64 hectares), Uttarakhand (3,368.89 hectares), Himachal Pradesh (2,512.65 hectares) and Punjab (2,391.57 hectares). Prior approval of the Union Environment Ministry is sought for any project that requires diversion of forest land.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ashwini Kumar Choubey informed the Rajya Sabha that the proposals for diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes were dealt with as per the provisions contained in the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, 1980, or the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act, 1980. “The use of forest land for non-forestry purposes is allowed only when such use is unavoidable and the forest area proposed for diversion is bare minimum. As per the Environment Impact Assessment notification, 2006, as amended from time to time, prior environmental clearance before the start of a project is required for projects and/or activities or modernisation of existing projects as listed in the Schedule appended to the said notification,” he said.
Responding to a question from Naresh Bansal on the area of forest land encroached upon in Uttarakhand, Choubey said 11,814.47 hectares of forest land was encroached upon in Uttarakhand.
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