Environmentalists unhappy with government’s changes in afforestation norms for forest land acquisition
States with high forest cover seeking diversion of forest land for non-forestry projects can now carry out compensatory afforestation in other states, as per a new guideline by the environment ministry. The guideline notes that states with more than 75% of their total land as forests shall not be required to provide non-forest land for compensatory afforestation and this can now be carried out in another state.
The issue of compensatory afforestation in exchange for diversion of forest land has been controversial in India. The decision could benefit companies eyeing forest land for projects like dams and mining but raises questions about the effectiveness of implementation and monitoring of compensatory afforestation once it is shifted outside of the project state. According to conservationists, this norm is unsustainable. Activists have regularly expressed their concern over the effectiveness of compensatory afforestation.