The Forest (Conservation) Act,1980 as amended from time to time checks
the indiscriminate diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.The
State Government/Union Territories are required to submit formal proposals
to the Central Government (Ministry of Environment and Forests) for
diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes in the prescribed proforma alongwith details such as flora,fauna,map of the area,compensatory afforestation proposed etc.As the Government of Indid does not favour the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes ,clearances under the forest act are very difficult to obtain.the rare exceptions carry stipulations for compensatory affoirestation and the like as laid down in the Act and the National Forest Policy, 1988.Therefore, as far as possible,non-forest land should be selected for projects.
As per the ammended Forest (Conservation) Rules in force now,the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests have the powers to decide proposals involving forest land upto 5 hectares.Proposals involving forest land between 5 - 20 hectares shall be processed by the Regional Chief Consrvatorin consultation with a State Advisory Group consisting of representatives of the concerned State Government.Proposals involving more than 20 ha. of forest land are required to be placed before the Advisory Committee constituted by the MoEF.
(Please see flow chart)
Some important guidelines laid down in Forest (Conservation) Act and Rules for diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes:
These guidelines ensure that ecological considerations are in no way undermined whilre examining investment proposals.The State Government or the Union Territory Adminstration concerned is required to envisage the initial stage itself,the different likely impacts of the proposed project,starting with the proposed site.The guidelines specify certain criteria for the siting of an industry,ehich state that no projects should be in the vicinity of:(Siting Guidelines for Industries)
Other important points are:
- Natonal Parks,Wildlife Sanctuaries and Core areas of the Biosphere Reserves.
- Scenic landscapes,areas of geomorphological significance,unique and represantative biomes and eco-systems,heritage sites/structures and areas of cultural heritage and importance.
- Fragile eco-systems such as mountains,areas rich in coral formations as well as marine,coastal,desert,wetland,riverine and island eco-systems.
- Areas rich in biological diversity,genepool and other natural resources.
- Investors in industrial projects involving forest land are required to undertake detailed Environmental Impact Assessment Studies of their projects with respect to physical resources,hydrology,
and water quality,socio-economic aspects,human use values,etc.
- Introduction of exotic species of plants and animals without adequate investigations are to be avoided.
- Monoculture and plantation of dominating and exotic species shall be discouraged without sufficient experimentation.
- Wild varieties of animals and plant species are not to be disturbed.
- Besides forest lands,diversion of prime agricultural lands for non-forest purposes are also restricted.
- Investigations and surveys carried out in connection with hydro-electric projects,transmission lines,seismic surveys,exploration for oil drilling or
mining will not attract the provisions of the Forest Act provided these surveys are restricted to only clearing of bushes and lopping of tree branches and do not involve clearing of forests or cutting of trees.
- Such surveys,investigations and explorations are prohibited in Sanctuaries,National Parks,Biosphere Reserves and in the preservation and sample plots under the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.
- The permission to survey,explore or prospect does not imply any commitment on the part of the Central Govt. for any subsequent use of the forest land.
Submission of Proposals involving Diversion of Forest Land
For further information, please contact :
Government of India
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Forest Conservation Division
Paryawaran Bhawan, CGO Complex
Lodi Road, NEW DELHI - 110 003 INDIA
Fax # 91-11-4360678