Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. 06-February, 2004 16:1 IST
Centre issues fresh guidelines for conversion of forest villages into revenue villages

OWNERSHIP RIGHTS TO BE EXTENDED TO ALL TRIBALS LIVING ON FOREST LAND PRIOR TO 1993

ENVIRONMENT CLEARANCE GIVEN TO SEVERAL HYDEL AND RAILWAY PROJECTS
The Centre has issued a fresh set of guidelines for conversion of forest villages into revenue villages. Addressing a press conference here last night, the Environment and Forests Minister Shri Ramesh Bais said that ownership rights (Pattas) will be extended to all tribals who have been living on forest land prior to 1993. Shri Bais said that the decision had been taken in consultation with the Prime Minister. He said that the Ministry will now inform the Supreme Court about the decision and expressed the hope that the Apex Court would respond positively to the decision of the Ministry.

Giving details of the decisions to streamline the forestry clearance procedures Shri Bais said Regional Empowered Committees will be set up within 180 days in all six regional offices to consider and decide on proposals recommended by State Governments. The process of granting clearance under Forest Conservation Rules has been made time bound with accountability fixed at all levels. The State Governments will have upto 210 days from receipt of the proposal to decide whether or not to recommend the proposal for forestry clearance to the Central Government. Only cases above 40 hectares shall be submitted to the Ministry of Evironment and Forests by the State Government. The MoEF will clear such cases within a period of 90 days.

A long pending project for irrigation known as ‘Human river project’ in Chandrapur Distt. of Maharashtra involving diversion of 1925.55 ha of forest land has been approved. This project will irrigate 46,000 ha of agricultural land in 160 villages of Chandrapur District. This has been one of the long pending demands of the people of Maharashtra in the Chanderpur Distt. Ministry has taken this decision after initiating adequate safeguards as requested by the Wildlife Institute of India for protecting the corridor of the wild animals.

A pending project from state of Tamil Nadu has also been cleared. It involves diversion of 29.942 ha of forest land for laying of 220 KV transmission line from Paikara Hydro Electric Project to Arasur Sub-station. This is going to benefit a large population of the state who have been suffering from power shortage.

The Centre also gave environmental clearance to a proposal for diversion of 304 ha of forest land for construction of Sanjay Sagar (Wah) Irrigation Project in Distt. Vidisha of Madhya Pradesh.

Government of Chhatisgarh had been repeatedly raising the issue of forestry clearance of Bodhghat Hydro Electric Project for construction of hydro electric project on River Indravati in Bastar District. Ministry has approved in principle diversion of 5734 ha of forest land for the said project after carefully assessing that already around 8500 ha of compensatory afforestation has been raised which has now taken up the shape of a good forests with a good mix up of original species. This was a long pending demand of the state of Chhatisgarh and erstwhile state of Madhya Pradesh. This was one of the three proposals which were submitted by the erstwhile Madhya Pradesh Government during the early 1980s for augmentation of power. Whereas, the Indira Sagar project involved submergence of 41000 ha of forest land for 1000 MW and 5800 ha for Omkareshwar Project for 500 MW was already approved previously.

Ministry has also agreed in principle with the request of the Chhatisgarh Government for diversion of 259.94 ha of forest land for construction of Dali-Rajhara Jagdalpur railway line. State Government and Railway Ministry have been requested to submit the fresh details regarding the places to be connected by the proposed railway line and the population to be benefited. This project will benefit a large number of villagers in Chhatisgarh.

One of the important decisions taken by the Ministry relates to ‘in principle’ approval of conversion of all the forest villages in 7 districts of Chhatisgarh to revenue villages. These districts are Raipur (50 villags), Dhantari (59 villages), Bilaspur (20 villages), Dantebala (85 villages), Durg (16 villages)Bastar (56 villages), Kawarda (7 villages) and Kanker (9 village). Total 302 villages. Ministry has already taken a decision to convert 311 villages in Madhya Pradesh.

The Government had reexamined the request of Madhya Pradesh Government for relaxation of the conditions imposed in respect of Omkarshwar Hydro Electric Project and Indira Sagar Hydro Electric Project regarding deposition of the entire revenue from the cutting of trees in submergence area with the forest department. It has been decided that the matter will be examined by the State Government on the following two points with the help of National Council of Economic Research.

(a) Define and identify the degraded forest to be afforestated and determine the cost of afforestation of such area.

(B) To determine the difference between the environmental cost of the forests to be submerged and the forests which will be raised through Compensatory afforestation.

The State may adopt any of the above options and determine the amount to be released. Till such time, the notice issued for revocation of the in principle approval shall be kept in abeyance.

Ministry has also taken a decision to issue fresh guidelines for conversion of forest villages into revenue villages. Now, all the State Governments have been requested to demarcate a composite area for patta lands and other common facilities and send the same after delinking the remaining forest area for conversion of forest villages into revenue villages within a fixed time limit of 6 months. There is no need to submit the details of pattas for the individuals.

The Ministry last year had issued a guideline that before issue of final approval, the State Government should notify the non-forest land as Reserved Forest (RF)/Protected Forest(PF).

However, procedures involving declaration of RF/PF is taking a long time due to which user agencies are facing problem. The Ministry has taken a policy decision that the land shall be handed over to the user agency after the non-forest land has been mutated in favour of the forest department and final approval shall be granted after the land is mutated in favour of the forest department. The nodal officer of the concerned state shall however, report compliance within a period of 6 months and send a copy of the original notification to the Central Government declaring the non-forest land under Section 4 or Section 29 of the Indian forest Act, 1927 as the case may be for the record.

Ministry has also approved diversion of 191.864 ha of forest land for construction of 400 KV 2 Double Circuit Indira Sagar – Indoor Transmission Line in M.P. This will facilitate transmission of 250 MW electricity being generated in the Indira Sagar Project and will immediately benefit the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Ministry has agreed on the proposal of the Government of Tripura to shift the tribal practicing shifting cultivation to the periphery provided a scheme is submitted and financial commitment is ensured for rehabilitation of the tribals. This will ensure regeneration of about 60,000 ha of forest land under shifting cultivation.

Ministry has accorded final approval to the diversion of 7600 ha of forest land for settlement of the landless tribals in the state of Kerala and in lieu more than 10,000 of private land have been brought under Reserve Forest.

Ministry has finalised the setting up of Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Agency (CAMPA) and difference over the manner of accounting with CEC have been sorted out and the Agency will be soon in place. This will give a big boost to the Compensatory Afforestation Programme.

Ministry has taken a decision to universalise the Joint Forest Management (JFM) in all the 170000 villages situated in and around forest areas. At present, more than 84000 JFM Committees have been constituted covering about 68000 revenue villages. A decision has been taken to expand the ambit of national afforestation programme being implemented under the forest development agencies mechanism. The JFM Committees shall be given one time assistance upto a maximum of Rs.10,000/- for initiating process for initiation of JFM in these villages.
(Release ID :980)