Centre on land-diverting spree
THE UNION Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has been on a land diversion spree, recommending a massive 91,798 hectare area to be diverted in the last eight months. This has been revealed by a review of the minutes of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) by members of a Delhi-based non-profit—the Environment Impact Assessment Resource and Response Centre. The review revealed that in May this year, 61,278 hectares was recommended to be cleared in one meeting alone, while in August, three meetings were held to clear projects involving an area of 15,027 hectares. During the period, FAC considered 134 proposals, out of which it rejected just two. Seventy projects were recommended for diversion, while the rest were deferred for want of more information. The major proposals cleared included the controversial Ken-Betwa river linking project which had a diversion of 6,017 hectares of forest land in favour of National Water Development Agency, in Chhattarpur near Panna and Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Conservationists say the project is going to cause irreparable damage and harm to the Panna Tiger Reserve. The FAC's decisions raise serious concerns for the environment at a time when forested lands are being considered valuable carbon sinks.