No land to extend Dehradun airport’s runway except forest: Uttarakhand govt to Centre
Over a month after the Centre asked Uttarakhand government to search for alternate land for extension of the runway at Dehradun airport, the state government has replied saying that no such land was available for the exercise.
In October, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had written to the state government. The letter had mentioned that the state government “may explore alternatives for the proposal such as acquiring area lying north of the existing runway…the entire proposed forest area for diversion falls within the Shivalik Elephant Reserve and elephant corridors within its 1 km radius. Moreover, the notified Kansaro-Barkot Elephant Corridor is located within 5 km radius. The State Government should consider avoiding these sensitive areas and explore alternative lands.”
Officials privy to the matter said that a reply from the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA) on technical queries has been submitted, while reply by the forest department will be sent on Tuesday.
Rajiv Dhiman, divisional forest officer of Dehradun forest division said, “We have learnt that UCADA has submitted a reply in this matter already. We will be submitting a reply in this matter on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, a senior forest official, on condition of anonymity said, “The existing runway in the Dehradun airport needs to be expanded towards a side which is feasible and in this case it is the forest side. With alternate land, a completely new airport will have to be built.”
Ashish Chauhan, chief executive officer of UCADA said, “We have replied to the technical queries asked by the Centre regarding the project. Our reply was mostly about documentation required for the process.”
In September, the state government had sought the union environment ministry’s approval under the Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for non-forestry use of 87.0815 hectares of forest land for “Expansion of the Jolly Grant Airport.”
On November 24, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Advisory Board approved the denotification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve as an elephant reserve to pave way for the expansion of Dehradun airport project.
Harak Singh Rawat, state forest minister said, “The state wildlife board during its 16th meeting approved the de-notification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve as there is no law to define an elephant reserve. In the late 90s and early 2000, the state government had sent a proposal to the Centre seeking a clarification regarding the said area, after which it was notified as an elephant reserve in 2002. But as per the norms of the central government, there is no law or Act yet under which the legal status of an elephant reserve is defined.”
He said the state government will issue an official order within a few days in this regard.
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