The Forest Advisory Committee of the ministry of environments and forests will be meeting on January 23 and hear out a presentation by the team developing the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project. Sources indicate that the meeting may give the forest clearance for the project too.
The meeting of the FAC follows a meeting of the planning commission held on January 18 where the issue of delays in environmental clearance for power projects was discussed. The meeting, chaired by the prime minister, developed a consensus that the average time taken for environment and forest clearance must come down from 550 days to 250 days.
The ministry of power and the ministry of environment are set to discuss the issue and decide on how to reduce the time. Sources said that the planning commission meeting specifically discussed the delay in granting clearance to the Mundra UMPP.
The Sasan project plans to take over 320 hectares of land for the project of which 312 hectares are forest-land. In return the company setting up the project will have to take over another 640 acres of de-forested forest-land and plant trees on the area creating double the forest cover of what it is taking for the project.
Expedited clearance by the ministry is key to the objective of creating ultra mega power projects wherein power capacity is supposed to come up quickly all across the country. Basic detailing for these project was done by various government agencies.
A key question at the presentation to the environment ministry was whether the project could have been done without taking over forest land. Also, in case of the ultra-mega power projects the onus of getting the forest clearance lied on the Power Finance Corporation and the other agencies.