Medilytix Bureau:

Odisha Chief Secretary Sri Suresh Chandra Mahapatra advised Principal Secretaries and Secretaries of different departments to make use of the latest provisions of forest laws for expeditious implementation of the critical infrastructure and development projects. Sri Mahapatra gave this direction in an interactive session on forest diversion proposals held on digital mode from Lokseba Bhawan in which Additional Chief Secretary Dr Mona Sharma outlined the issues for discussion.

Sri Mahapatra also directed to develop a full proof online software through which the forest diversion proposals could be dealt right from the time of initiation to the final sanction and issue of the certificates. Chief Secretary said, “Forest department officers are very much a part of the developmental process; and, they should be properly oriented and appraised about the recent permissive provisions of the law that allow lying of infrastructure projects and other
developmental interventions in the forest land”. Sri Mahapatra directed the department to circulate a simplified guideline with frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers among the district and field level officers of both the forest and user departments. The department was also asked to organize regular orientation programme of the forest and revenue officers and update them about latest position of the law regarding development of the critical socio-economic infrastructure.

Additional Chief Secretary Dr Sharma said that around 13 types of essential projects could be approved under latest FRA. These included schools, dispensary, fair price shops, electric and telecommunication lines, tanks, drinking water projects, minor irrigation projects, canal, water harvesting structures, clean energy, skill training centre, roads, and community centers. Permission of the use of forest land to the extent of one hector could be given by the DFOs.
Further, Sri Mahapatra directed to identify appropriate land for compensatory afforestation (CA) in lieu of the diverted forest for maintaining ecological balance over the years.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force Sri Sishir Kumar Ratho advised that the land identified for land bank should be permissible and appropriate for compensatory afforestation. He advised that the land categories like the degraded revenue forest, patara jungle, jhada jungle etc would be ideal for CA.

Additional Chief Secretary Water Resources Smt Angu Garg, Additional Chief Secretary Revenue and Disaster Management Sri Satyabrata Sahu, Principal Secretary School and Mass Education Sri Bishnupada Sethi, Principal Secretary Steel and Mines Sri Deo Ranjan Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary Higher Education Sri Saswat Mishra along with Secretaries of different departments participated in discussions.

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