A week after union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda reviewed status of the national highways, he met his cabinet colleague Prakash Javadekar, minister of state of environment and forests, on Friday, seeking enhancement of powers of the state government to divert forest land to construct road projects.
During his recent visit to the state capital, chief minister Virbhadra Singh and the state government officials had apprised the health minister about the problems being faced by them in regard to diversion of the forest land. In view of the notification of 1952, most of the government land is classified as forest land thus impeding development in the state.
Currently, the state government has delegated powers for diversion of land upto one hectare, while in the past, the government had been instating to enhance powers upto five hectares to give impetus to its projects.
Nadda requested Javadekar to enhance powers of the state government from the existing 1 hectare to 5 hectares. He pointed out that this step had the potential to give a big fillip to development activities in the state. Meanwhile, the environment minister has assured that he would look into the issue and initiate appropriate action in this regard.
Last week, the minister announced three new national highways for the state, including 80 km Theog-Hatkoti, 60 km Una-Basoli-Badsar -Salooni Bhot and 75 km Kumarhatti-Sarah-Banethi-Nahan roads. The deplorable condition of the Theogh Hatkoti highway has been a cause of concern ever since work to widening the road initiated seven years ago had made its condition deplorable. The road is a lifeline for the state's apple growing areas.