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Construction boom takes toll on green cover

 

LUCKNOW: Construction boom is the biggest factor taking a toll on the state's green cover. If one goes by the past 10 years' record, Construction work has beaten other infrastructural projects like power, irrigation and roads. At least 3,400 hectare forest area has gone for construction and other one-time projects in UP in ten years' time from 2000 to 2009. The forest land used for two major infrastructure activities, road widening and power projects, is a chunk, half in size or even less of what has been used for 'other' purposes.

 

"Construction is one of the major purposes under the head. It's mostly the one-time activity," said sources in the forest department.

 

 

However, what have been the construction projects for which the forest land was transferred is what even the yearly review report of the department does not mention. And, the safest plea taken by the department is that to know of the construction projects, every individual transfer case will have to be assessed.

 

The biggest ever transfer of forest land has been to the Army in Shivalik. Some 2,000 hectare was transferred to the Army for developing a firing range in 2007-08, the biggest ever in the past three decades in the state, says the report.

 

The land has been given on a lease for 30 years to the Army, and there cannot be construction done at the place. The department has got one-time premium for the land, along with 10% of the one-time premium (which is worked on the basis of the DM circle rate), every year.

 

The diversion of forest land for any non-forestry purpose requires transfer of the land under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The department realizes the cost of the land, from the agency to which the land has been transferred. Besides, the land never loses the status of being the forest land.

 

Road widening has been the second major activity for which forest land has been used. NHAI in the past ten years has taken up widening of state and national highways actively, seeking transfer of more than 1,900 hectare of forest land in the state.

 

"And this has happened all over the state," said sources. NHAI has also sought clearance for Lucknow-Sultanpur, Lucknow-Allahabad and Kabrai (Mahoba)-Kanpur stretches. The forest land transferred to the power projects has been much less, some 490 hectare. The forest land has also been transferred for mining, laying water pipelines, irrigation and drinking water projects.

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