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The government exempts key infra projects from wildlife fund rules

Current Affairs

  • Centre has exempted road, rail, and transmission line projects from having to deposit 2% and 0.5% of total project cost towards the cost of the Wildlife Management Plan (WMP) and Soil and Moisture Conservation Plan (SMCP) respectively.
  • The Union environment ministry under guidelines issued on June 7, 2022, made it mandatory for all projects to deposit 2% of the total project cost towards the cost of implementation of WMP and 0.5% for SMCP, as the case may be, for the purpose of obtaining Stage-II (final forest) clearance under the Forest Conservation Act 1980.
  • It decided to tweak the guidelines for road and other linear projects such as rail lines, sidewalks, trails, and transmission lines after it was pointed out that these would end up paying for the entire length of the project even though only a small part would pass through a forest.
  • It prohibits the felling of forests for any non-forestry use without prior clearance by the central government.
  • The clearance process includes seeking consent from local forest rights holders and from wildlife authorities.
  • In the T N Godavarman case (1996), Supreme Court expanded coverage of FCA, in 1980 to all areas that satisfied the dictionary definition of a forest; Previously, FCA applied largely to reserve forests and national parks.

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