FOREST CONSERVATION ACT, 1980
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 came in to force with effect from October 25, 1980. Under the provisions of this Act, prior approval of the Central Government is essential for diversion of forest lands for the non-forestry purposes. In the national interest and in the interest of future generations, this Act, therefore, regulates the diversion of forest lands to non forestry purposes. The basic objective of the Act is, to regulate the indiscriminate diversion of forest lands for non forestry uses and to maintain a logical balance between the developmental needs of the country and the conservation of natural heritage. The, guidelines have been issued under the Act from time to time, to simplify the procedures, to cut down delays and to make the Act more user friendly. To ensure this, recently, new rules under this Act have been framed and notified on 10/1/2003 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Diversion of forest land under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is required for many purposes such as Electric Transmission line, Hydel, Irrigation, Mining, Roads, Water supply etc. The concerned User Agencies are applying to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests directly for such diversion. After thorough scrutiny, the applications are processed and orders are obtained from the competent authorities for the diversion. Forest areas have been diverted in the State mainly for various Government projects.
As per the guidelines issued in Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (Forest Conservation Division), New Delhi F. No. 11-232/2014-FC (pt) dated 24.07.2014, from 15th August 2014 onwards, all new/renewal forest clearance proposals will be accepted through online mode only through the web portal designed by the Ministry. The District Forest Officers/Conservator of Forests have been informed about this Government of India guidelines and guide the User Agencies whenever they approach them for Forest Clearance.
Steps to be followed for getting clearance under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Stage I approval
- The User Agency has to file application through online with all necessary details/undertakings/certificates.
- If the proposal is in full shape, the proposal will be forwarded to the District Forest Officer concerned for processing the proposal.
- The User Agency has to enclose Certificate obtained from the District Collector about non availability of Non forest land for the project and completion of process of Forest Rights Act under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.
- After field inspection, the District Forest Officer has to record his recommendation in the prescribed format along with necessary details and forward the proposal to Conservator of Forests.
- The Conservator of Forests has to record his recommendation and forward the proposal to Nodal Officer of Forest (Conservation) Act, Office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
- The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests has to forward the proposal along with the recommendation of Nodal Officer of Forest (Conservation) Act to the State Government.
- The State Government has to forward the proposal to the Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. If the diversion area is below 40 hectares, the proposal has to be taken up at Regional Office at Chennai or otherwise it will be forwarded to Government of India, New Delhi office.
- If the diversion area is below 5 hectares, the proposal will be considered by the Regional Office. For the proposal of forest area diversion of above 5 hectares, the Regional Empowered Committee constituted at Regional level will consider and approve the proposal and issue Stage I clearance with certain conditions if the proposal is viable
Normally the following conditions imposed
- The User Agency has to hand over and mutate Compensatory land of Non forest land in favour of Forest Department.
- The User Agency has to deposit Compensatory Afforestation cost along with maintenance and protection of plantation as fixed by the Forest Department.
- The User Agency has to deposit the Net Present Value of the Forest land to be diverted as per the orders of Hon'ble Supreme Court of India.
- The User Agency has to demarcate the forest land by erecting cement concrete pillars at an interval of 20 meters and to furnish Geo reference reading of the site.
- The User Agency has to furnish undertakings to deposit additional Net Present Value of forest land if any revised by the Supreme Court of India.
- If tree felling of Spontaneous tree growth available in the proposed forest area, orders of Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has to be obtained by the User Agency for processing the forest clearance proposal.
Stage II approval
After fulfillment of Stage I conditions by the User Agency, compliance report will be sent to Government of India for getting Stage II final approval. The Government of India will accord Stage II final approval, after reconciliation of funds deposited by the User Agency with State CAMPA Account. The State Government will accord Government Orders for forest area diversion. After issue of State Government orders, enter upon permission will be issued by the District Forest Officer to the User Agency.
If the forest land diversion is below 1 hectare for the works specified for critical development and security related works, the State Government will accord permission.
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