To clear hurdles for road projects in forest areas without mandatory consent of gram sabha (the village body) the Union Tribal Affairs and Environment Ministry on February 1 resolved their differences.
At a meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the two ministries agreed to change the 2009 guidelines issued under Forest Rights Act for quicker approval for road projects on the ground that it would benefit the tribal and forest dwellers by improving area’s economic value.
Jayanthi Natarajan, the Union Environment Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo had attended the meeting called by the PM to resolve the forest right issues considered as biggest stumbling block for fastening highway growth in India. Many of the National Highway Authority of India’s road projects were struck because of delay in getting gram sabha approvals, which under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) is must for any project in forest area.
Now, the Environment Ministry would issue fresh guidelines exempting certain road projects from the provisions of the FRA.