JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

| Last Updated:: 11/05/2016

India's green cover is fast depleting, 34,620 hectares gone in two years










Between April 2014 and 2016, the Union ministry for environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) diverted 34,620 hectares of forest land, granting them final clearances, also known as stage-II clearance while diversion of 40,476 hectares will soon happen once the ministry grants them final clearance, environment minister Prakash Javadekar informed the Parliament. The ministry has approved forest land diversion both stage-II clearances for 1,513 projects under 22 project categories. The mining sector has been granted nearly a third of the diverted forest land, to the tune of 10,309 hectares. This primarily involves coal mining projects and few iron mining and bauxite mining projects and projects related to minor minerals. 



Following the mining sector, the forest road sector, irrigation sector and transmission lines got a large extent of forest land diverted for projects. While 5,671 hectares was diverted for roads, 4,585 hectares of forest land was diverted for irrigation and 4,158 hectares was diverted for transmission lines.



Among states, Madhya Pradesh topped in the extent of forest land approved with a total forest area of 4,808 hectares diverted for 88 projecs, followed by Odisha, where 4,618 hectares of total forest area was diverted for 37 projects.



In the last two years, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have seen two major projects getting forest clearances. The MoEFCC cleared the Dameracherla thermal power plant in Nalgonda, Telangana to fell 1,892 hectares of forest. In August last year, it gave an in-principle approval to diversion of 1,212 hectares for the controversial bauxite mining project at Jerrala, Vishakhapatnam.



As per Forest Conservation Act, 1980, forest clearance for development projects involves a two-stage approval. In stage I, the environment ministry grants an in-principle clearance after the proposal is appraised. This approval is accompanied by certain conditions. The project proponents have to comply with those conditions and state governments have to submit a report to Centre, confirming compliance. Once this report is submitted, the ministry gives a final or stage-II approval and even the state government has to issue a final order for diversion of forest land. As per ministry data, 1,557 projects have been given stage-I clearance for a total forest area of 40,476 hectares. These projects may be pending final clearance due to non-compliance of conditions such as settlement of forest rights.