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Andhra Pradesh’s plan for capital Amaravati faces green hurdle

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-06-2017 Mayank Aggarwal

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh’s plan to build a new capital city, Amaravati, has run into a potential roadblock. The environment ministry has formed an expert panel to examine the state government’s master plan for the capital after several environmental concerns were raised over the project.

The project involves diversion of 13,377 hectares of forest land in favour of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) to develop infrastructure for Amravati.

The proposal was first submitted in October 2015 to the forest advisory committee (FAC), of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) but has not received forest clearance yet.

The proposal was discussed in the FAC’s latest meeting on 16 May. Minutes of the meeting were reviewed by Mint.

At the meeting, FAC took note of the submissions made by the forest division of the environment ministry and its regional office in Chennai on the project.

The submissions noted the proposal includes diversion of 890.43 hectares of the Kondapally forest.

“This Kondapally forest, with overall forest area of 9,137.19 hectares, acts as the lungs of Vijayawada people with lot of historical associations and should not be disturbed… The Kondapally toys using the soft wood from the trees ‘Givotia Rotteleofrmis’ mainly available in these forests has obtained the geographical indicator (GI) certification also,” the submission noted.

Another concern is whether the land proposed to be used for compensatory afforestation in exchange for diversion of forest land is suitable for afforestation.

“The FAC took note of the above facts and the detailed presentation made by the officers of the government of Andhra Pradesh and after detailed deliberations recommends that an expert committee shall be constituted by the ministry (MoEFCC) to examine the master plan for the capital of Andhra Pradesh prepared by the state government,” said the minutes of the FAC’s meeting.

“On receipt of the expert committee’s report, the matter would be considered in the FAC and appropriate recommendations shall be made accordingly,” the FAC said.

FAC is the nodal body under the Forest Conservation Act 1980 which recommends or rejects proposals for diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes like mining and infrastructure development.

FAC only makes recommendations, and the final clearance is given the environment ministry. It is, however, very rare that MoEFCC overturns FAC recommendations.

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