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State approvals hold up Rs 2 lakh cr projects

business Updated: Dec 27, 2013 01:21 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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About Rs 2,00,000 crore worth of key infrastructure projects are stuck due to delay in receiving state approvals.

Of the 107 projects cited by the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) as been delayed because of environmental reasons, about 103 are related to issues concerned state governments.

“We have asked the states to process these projects and most of them are related to diversion of forestland,” an official said.

The number of projects approved by the environment ministry in 2013 is 50% more compared to the previous year. In fact, only four projects are stuck for want of environmental or forest clearance, ministry sources said. Of them, three are hydro electricity projects situated in the north-east including Tipaimukh project in Manipur. "We cannot allow these hydro projects as it would result in huge destruction of forests," a ministry functionary said.

About one-forth of these projects were held back due to delay in land acquisition by state governments, ministry officials said.

Where land acquisition process has taken place, delay in holding mandatory public hearing has been a major reason for holding back of environmental approvals. Approval of two-third of the village body in forest areas is a must for securing clearance from the environment ministry. The number of such projects is one-fifth of the total projects delayed.

The state governments have also found it difficult to meet the environment ministry’s guideline of the Forest Rights Act, which stipulates that right of forest dwellers should be met before diversion of such land for projects.

The environment ministry has cleared as many as 356 projects worth Rs 5,60,000 crore in six different categories in the first 11 months of the current year. The ministry diverted 17,134 hectares of forest land in first 8 months of 2013, 30% more than previous year.