New Delhi | The Centre has extended relaxed environmental norms for public utility infrastructure projects in Naxal-affected areas for a period of three years till December 2018. The norms were valid till December 2015. In a circular issued to state governments, the Union Environment Ministry said it has received representations to extend the period of validity of these general approvals.
Accordingly, after careful examination of the matter in this ministry, I am directed to say that period of validity of the afore-mentioned general approvals has been extended till December 31, 2018, a ministry official said in the circular. In 2011, the ministry had accorded general approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act for diversion of forest land for creating critical public utility infrastructure involving not more than 5 hectare of forest land in 117 Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts, subject to some conditions.
Later in 2014, the ministry extended the approval to projects involving diversion of forest land, not located within the protected areas, for construction of two lane public roads by government departments in these districts, irrespective of the area of forest land involved in such projects. Around 13 activities are covered under the general approval. They include construction of schools, dispensaries, hospitals, electrical and telecommunication lines, drinking water, minor irrigation canal, power sub-stations, rural roads and communication posts, among others.