PANJIM: In what could give a major relief to various government and private agencies, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has decided to do away with Forest Clearance (FC) for laying of various underground optical fibers, water or electricity pipelines, in the forest areas, except in the wildlife sanctuaries and national park.
During a meeting held last month, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry has decided to exempt laying of underground Optical Fiber Cables (OFC), telephone lines, drinking water supply pipelines, electricity cables, CNG/PNG and slurry pipelines in the Right of Ways (RoW) in the RoW of existing roads from obtaining approval under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
The exemption is granted for laying of slurry pipelines and other underground cabling along the roads within existing RoW with maximum trench size of 2m deep and 1m wide.
The FAC observed that if the area, where the underground pipelines are to be laid, is already allowed for the construction of road under the provisions of FCA 1980 and all compensatory levies for the entire forest area involved has been paid by the user agency then laying of underground slurry pipelines within the diverted forest area in existing RoWs, trenches of two metre width and two metre depth may be allowed.
“General approval is accorded to the listed projects along the roads within existing RoWs not falling in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries without felling of trees,” the FAC noted.
The FAC also said that if Net Present Value (NPV) has been charged for the entire forest area already diverted under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, same shall not be charged again for laying underground slurry pipelines within the RoW.
In its series of general conditions laid down, the FAC said that after completion of the project, the project proponent will have to reclaim the area suitably.