Shimla: Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh on Monday called on Anil Madhav Dave, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change in New Delhi and urged him to delegate powers to the state government to accord environmental clearance for all run-of-the-river hydro power projects.
While attracting the attention of Union Minister on pending environmental clearances, the Chief Minister said that the state government was facing lot of challenges in implementing various developmental projects such as construction of roads, hydel and irrigation projects in the state.
He apprised that due to non-acceptance of diversion proposals by the Government of India, about 57 cases of hydro-electric projects, various mining projects and even the project of national importance of construction of Rohtang tunnel were held up. No forest clearance under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 has been accorded since last year, despite the best efforts and full justification given by the state government in this regard, he added.
Singh expressed his concern that despite vast hydel power potential available in the state, execution of even the run-of-the-river hydel power projects was being delayed inordinately due to pendency of environment clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The Chief Minister apprised that at present, hydro power projects less than 50 MW can be cleared by the state government, whereas for projects that are more than 50 MW capacity, the clearance power was with the MOEF. He said provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which authorise state government to accord environmental clearance to the hydro projects upto 50 MW, might be invoked to enhance the delegation of power to accord environmental clearance for all the run-of-the-river hydro projects.
Singh also raised the issue of diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes and urged the Union Minister that the powers of approval for such diversion may be enhanced from existing one hectare to 10 hectare, keeping in view the positive change in the forest cover of the state due to concerted efforts of the state government, committed to increase the forest cover as per the guidelines of National Forest Policy.
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