Odisha seeks equal dispensation for state PSUs in afforestation norms

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accord equal dispensation for state government and state PSUs at par with central PSUs in terms of compensatory afforestation.

In a letter to Modi, the Chief Minister said a special dispensation has been allowed for the projects of Central Government and Central Government Undertakings that allows raising of compensatory afforestation on degraded forest land in twice the extent of forest areas diverted.afforestation in Odisha

“But, in all other cases, including the projects of state government and its undertakings, use of degraded forest land for compensatory afforestation is permitted if it is certified by the chief secretary that suitable non-forest land is not available in the entire state,” he added.

“In my view, it will be in fitness of things to extend the special dispensation given to the central PSU projects to the projects owned by to the state government PSUs also as the projects run by state PSUs are important as the projects of central government for achieving the national development goals or objectives,” said Patnaik.

Citing that 37.34% of the geographical area in Odisha is recorded as forest area, he said difficulties are faced especially by the state government and state PSUs in identifying non-forest land of large chunks for raising compensatory afforestation, particularly in the districts having a large number of mining and industrial projects.

Besides, it is also more  desirable to  take up compensatory afforestation in degraded forest land located  nearby  to  the project area  from the  environmental as well as forest management point of view rather than taking it up in far away areas, he added.

He said the chief secretary had already raised the issue with Ministry of Forest and Environment which regretted the proposal. He sought the intervention of Prime Minister to make special provisions applicable to state government/PSUs.