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Forest Clearance

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Introduction

Forests are the respiratory organ for of the nation and provide many ecological services like oxygen, clean water, maintenance of soil-moisture by checking soil erosion etc. Forests maintain environment stability and ecological balance. Forests with the vast variety of flora and fauna are home of biodiversity. Forests directly sequester Carbon dioxide from atmosphere and play a critical role in checking global warming and climate change. Forests check extension of sand-dunes preventing desertification. Healthy forest eco-systems is necessary for further land degradation in the country.

India is a developing Nation with the land area of total 328.7 million hectare of which 142.5 million ha. (43.3%) is under farming practice & rest is the Forests cover 75.6 million ha. (23.27%).

A forest is a large area which is occupied by the trees, plants, herbs, shrubs or a forest may be defined as an ecosystem where plants, animals live together. Trees, animals, land all together constitute a forest.

At present the total forest cover is 708,273 square km, which is 21.54 percent of the total area of the country.

In terms of forest cover, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 square km in the country, followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 66,964 square km and Chhattisgarh with 55,547 square km. 

Forests are very essential part of earth or living Beings, we all depend directly & indirectly on forest for our livelihood,

Types of forest

According to Forest Conservation Act, there are 3 types of forest i.e. Reserved Forest, Protected Forest & Unclassified forest. The following classification is on the basis of degree of protection & activities banned.

  1. Reserved Forest

These forests are regarded as the most precious as far as the conservation of forests and wildlife is concerned. Almost half of the total forest land has been declared as reserved forests for the conservation & to maintain the integrity of forest. Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Kerala, etc. have largest %age of these.

Activities like hunting, grazing are banned unless specific orders are issued otherwise

  1. Protected Forest

These are protected from any further depletion. Almost one - third of the total forest area is the protected forested area. Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, etc. have a bulk of it.

In protected forests, all activities like hunting, grazing, livelihood intake are permitted unless it is prohibited.

  1. Unclassified Forest

These belong to the local individuals or communities & government as well. All North- Eastern part and parts of Gujarat have these forests. This region of forest has no restriction on cutting of trees or cattle grazing, it is free from restriction.

What is Forest Clearance?

Forest Clearance may be defined as a procedure given by the central or state government to clear or diversion of forest land for non-forest produce.

Many rules are there for protection of forest land i.e. Forest Act, Forest (Conservation) Act, Forest Policy, all these act & policy emphasis on the conservation of forest land.

FCA allows the diversion of forest land for construction and society welfare purposes e.g. drinking water purpose (well, lake, canal), irrigation(dam), electricity generation purpose, railway lines, highway, defence related projects, mining etc. and for that Forest Clearance is required

What is the Importance of Forest Clearance?

As the population is increasing day by day for catering the need of increased population, resources shall also be increased and by this Industrialisation & development is increasing at a very high rate to fulfil the need of everyone.

For new projects, industries, institutions land has to be required; some project requires the diversion of forest land. After getting permission from the concerned department only then forest land can be diverted.

Forest Clearance is a very crucial process & it takes time, because every aspect of the project is been carefully studied & after scrutinizing all the documents the Moef & CC grants permission or reject the proposal.

The GOI (Moef & CC) with the forest department conduct the survey of the forest land which is supposed to be diverted for the non-forest land purpose.

The Survey report Consist of

  1. Area of Land required for the diversion purpose.
  2. Number of plant species affected.
  3. Number of animals affected.
  4. Number of people affected.
  5. Effect on the land, water & air of the particular place.
  6. Distance of land from the Human settlement area.
  7. Distance from the Highway.
  8. Distance from the nearest city.
  9. Distance from the nearest water body.
  10.  Area affected by the Project
  11.  Number of people benefitted.
  12.  Compensation for the forest area affected.
  13. Area of green belt development.

What activities need Forest Clearance?

There are number of activities which require Forest Clearance

  1. Diversion of forest land for Irrigation Purpose
  2. Diversion of forest land for Industry Purpose
  3. Diversion of forest land for Mining Purpose
  4. Diversion of forest land for Quarrying Purpose
  5. Diversion of forest land for Highway Purpose
  6. Diversion of Forest land for other purpose (process name)

Procedure for Forest Clearance

Project proposals are classified on the basis of the area of forest land required for diversion for non-forest purpose.

  • Up to 5 hectares : Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCF)
  • 5?40 hectares: RCCF in Consultation with State Advisory Group by Regional Office of Moef &CC (Clearance Issued by the ministry)
  • 40 hectares  : Forest Advisory Committee FAC (by Moef &CC)

Form – A (Require grant of fresh forest land (Form-A)

Form A is for that any forest land or any part thereof may be used for any non forest purpose;

Form – A (Require grant of fresh forest land (Form-A)

Form A is also for that if any forest land or any part thereof may be assigned by way of rent or otherwise to any private person or to any body, corporation, agency or any other organization not hold, managed or controlled by Government;

Form – B (Require extension of lease (Form-B))

Form – C (Require approval for inspection of Minerals (Form-C))

  • Project details can be submitted along with all required documents in FORM A, FORM B, FORM C
  • Nodal Officer scrutinizes the user agency proposal and sends an acceptance letter to User Agency, if all relevant documents are uploaded properly by U.A.
  • If any document is not provided by the user agency or any other information is needed, Nodal Officer may ask U.A. to upload those missing information.
  • After sending acceptance letter to project proponent, the proposal details are automatically forwarded to Concerned DFOs & DCs
  • When, DFO uploads his/her comment and Site Inspection Reports, & the proposal details are automatically forwarded to concerned CF/CCF for the necessary action.
  • CF/CCF uploads his/her comment and Site Inspection Reports on the portal, proposal details are forwarded automatically to concerned Nodal Officer for the necessary action.
  •  Nodal Officer can view the proposal and comment of DFO and CF/CCF
  • When, Nodal Officer conveys his/her comment and Site Inspection Reports, proposal details are forwarded automatically to concerned State Secretary for the necessary action.
  • State Secretary can view the proposal and comment of DFO, CF/CCF and Nodal Officer entire details and then process it.
  • When, State Secretary conveys his/her comment on the proposal, proposal details is forwarded automatically to concerned Regional Office or Head Office.
  • The permission is then granted or rejected by the Head office after securitizing all the documents

  • Time line for processing forest clearance proposal

State Government/ Union territory administration

(Stage-1)

Level

5 ha.

5 to 40 ha.

50 to 100 ha.

More than 100 ha.

Nodal Officer

10

10

10

10

DCF / District Collector for FRA

30

30

45

60

CF

10

10

30

30

Nodal Officer/ PCCF

10

20

25

30

State Govt.

30

30

30

30

Transit Period

20

20

20

20

Total (days)

110

120

150

180

 

Central Government

(Stage-2)

Activity

5 ha.

5 to 40 ha.

50 to 100 ha.

More than 100 ha.

Pre-audit by MoEF/ RO to examine fulfilment of project

5

5

10

10

Site inspection by R.O.

-

-

-

45

FAC

-

-

30

30

REC

-

30

-

-

Approval by Competent authority (CA

20

-

30

30

Total After both stages (days)

135

155

220

295

Inspection Visit for Different Project

Category of Project

DCF inspection visit

CF inspection visit

Nodal officer inspection visit

Centre monitoring visit

Mining

One time in a year

One time  in two years

One time in three years

Major minerals/minor minerals (> 40 ha): Once a year Minor minerals (< 40 ha): Once in five years

Hydro power projects /dam construction/river valley/construction and widening of roads/transmission line/railways/pipelines/wind power/thermal power/industrial projects, etc. – During construction*

One time in a year

One time in two years

One time in two years

One time in a year

Hydel/irrigation/river valley/wind power/thermal power/industrial projects, etc. – After construction

One time in two years

One time in three years

One time in three years

One time in two years

Construction and widening of roads/highways/transmission lines/railways, etc.  – After construction

One time in three years

One time in four years

One time in four years

One time in three years

Other projects – During implementation #

One time in a year

Once time in  two years

Once time in two years

One time in a year

Other projects – After implementation

One time in five years

One time in five years

One time in five years

One time in five years

* A minimum of one inspection during the construction period by all the 3 authorities # a minimum of one inspection during the implementation period by all the 3 authorities

Environmental laws applicable for Forest Clearance

Before any project proponent start activity in a forest land he/she shall apply for Forest Clearance. The Concerned department after scrutinizing all the documents of the project proponent makes decision to grant or reject the permission.

The important central forest legislations in India are:

  • Indian Forest Act, 1927
  • Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
  • Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 or Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA)
  • National Forest Policy, 1988
  • National Forestry Action Program (NFAP)

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Author
Shamshad Alam
Experienced Digital Marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. He likes to write about the latest technology trends, Skilled in Digital Marketing likes. Search Engine Optimization, SMO, SEM, PPC, Content Writing, and, Designing, etc.