The Odisha government is mulling creation of a land bank for compensatory afforestation while putting on fast track forest clearance for major ongoing projects in the state. Direction for creation of a land bank for compensatory afforestation has been issued recently by Chief Secretary A P Padhi, official sources said. The issues relating to use of revenue forest land and mine voids for compensatory afforestation were discussed threadbare at a high-level meeting chaired by Padhi, they said. The issues relating to forest clearance for major ongoing projects in the state were put on fast track when progress in their implementation was reviewed. Considering the forest clearance status of each project, the forest department officers have been directed to expedite the process of forest clearance to avoid time and cost overrun. The project proponents were advised to submit the compliances on the web portal in time, while the time limit was fixed for completion of the project proposals and their onward transmission to the union government for forest clearance. The available data show, presently around 66 ongoing major projects have got forest clearances.
Out of those, 33 have got stage-1 forest clearance and 33 have got state-II forest clearance, sources said. These projects are being implemented through the departments of Steel & Mining, Energy, Works, Industry, Irrigation as also Railways, NHAI, and others. Direction was given to complete the ground level work for stage-II clearance and transmit those to the Centre within prescribed time limit. The projects awaiting stage-I forest clearances figured in the meeting.
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