Forest clearances for only 6% of road projects since Jan 2015
New Delhi: The Union environment ministry has given final forest clearance to only 6% of the 598 proposals it received for road and highways projects across India in the 16 months starting January 2015.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, however, attributed the delay to state governments who don’t send the required documents. According to environment ministry data, the centre received 598 proposals to build roads and highways from 1st January 2015 to 21 April 2016 from various states for forest clearance.
Of the total 598 proposals, only 37 (6%) got final forest clearance while 164 got in-principle approval. “Decision on 364 (60%) proposals is pending due to non-receipt of essential documents/information sought from the concerned states/Union Territories,” Javadekar told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
“To ensure expeditious decision on the pending proposals, such proposals are regularly reviewed by senior officers in the central government,” he added.
An environment ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, said the proportion just touches 33%, including final clearances and in-principle approval.
“Now, the problem is not environment ministry... state governments also need to pull up their socks and they can’t just continue blaming us. Over 60% of road and highway projects are stuck because of their own problems and not because of us,” the official said.
The maximum proposals—304 in number—came from Uttarakhand alone but only two got final forest clearance while 70 were approved in-principle.
Uttarakhand was followed by Uttar Pradesh with 55 proposals, Himachal Pradesh with 43, Haryana with 42, and Punjab and Rajasthan with 32 proposals each.
Besides, there were 16 states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and West Bengal, which did not get final forest nod for even a single project.
Javadekar also said his ministry granted 349 environmental clearances in the mining sector during last two years – 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016.
Of these, 264 environmental clearances were for the non-coal mining sector while 85 were for the coal mining sector.
But there are 141 environmental clearances pending at various levels in the mining sector. Of these, 119 are from non-coal mining sector while 22 are from the coal mining sector.
The environment ministry has given special attention to streamlining of green (environment and forest) clearances. The measures included allowing submission of applications online making it easier for companies to seek approvals, reduce delays and bring in transparency.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to May 2014 general election had promised to streamline green clearances to facilitate ease of doing business for industries.