The dream of having an Indian Institute of Technology and an Indian Institute of Management in the same city has been shattered for the time being. The environment ministry has rejected a proposal for setting up an IIT in Indore, which already has an IIM.
The Madhya Pradesh government had sought permission of the environment ministry's Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) for diverting 80 hectares of forestland to set up an IIT, which the HRD ministry sanctioned to the state in the 11th five-year plan.
Diversion of any forestland needs government's permission under the Forest Conservation Act, except one hectare of forestland for construction of buildings of public importance such as schools, hospitals, dispensaries and community halls.
The FAC rejected the proposal saying that diverting so much of forestland will damage the ecological balance in and around the city of Indore, the only city in India which could had the distinction of having both IIT and IIM.
"The proposal of the state government of Madhya Pradesh to diver forest land located in vicinity of an important city for setting up of a non specific project, such as IIT, without undertaking a detailed exercise to examine all feasible alternatives, may be rejected," the committee said, in its report submitted to environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
Agreeing to the proposal would have meant cutting down of 7,164 trees with a good density of 89.55 trees per hectare. "There is very less good forestland around Indore. This is a reserved forest of good quality," said a ministry official.
The worse was that the committee found the land in Hasalpur village indicated in the proposal for compensatory afforestation was not suitable to raise plantation. And, no alterative land for afforestation was mentioned in the proposal.
The FAC, however, gave some relief to urban development minister Kamal Nath as it approved an up-gradation of a national highway in his parliamentary constituency. For this, 48 hectares of forestland will have to be diverted between Amarwada and Narsinghpur.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh was accused of blocking highway projects falling in Nath's constituency, when he was road transport minister. This is the first major project getting FAC approval after Nath was appointed as urban development minister.
The FAC also had some good news for Mayawati as it approved diversion of forestland for construction of eight-lane expressway on Upper Ganga Canal in five districts of Uttar Pradesh despite an adverse report by its regional office in Lucknow. Already, people have protested for acquisition of their land for the project in Ghaziabad.