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Apex wildlife panel holds virtual conference, clears infra projects

Prakash Javadekar. File photo: PTI

Prakash Javadekar. File photo: PTI  

Approved wildlife clearance for a number of developmental projects by 11 States: Javadekar

The Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife had its first ever video-conferencing meet on Monday where infrastructure projects in 11 States were cleared, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted.

“I chaired the meeting of standing committee of NBWL through videoconference and approved wildlife clearance for a number of developmental projects by 11 States,” it read.

Two were infrastructure proposals related to setting up power transmissions line and constructing a highway in Goa, which would “boost tourism.”

Other projects included the Nagpur-Mumbai superhighway, a small-scale stone mining project in Kota, Rajasthan; an underground pumped storage facility for generating hydroelectricity; an Indian railways project to make a railway bridge in Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, irrigation projects in Uttarakhand and Telangana and defence projects in Uttarakhand, according to his tweets.

Projects that encroach into forests or protected reserves require NBWL nod as part of the government’s environmental clearance process. Projects are appraised at a State level and then subsequently presented to a large committee of wildlife experts, the Chief Wildlife Wardens of States, top officials in the Union Environment Ministry and Forest Ministry and, the Environment Minister.

Plans to hold a videoconference were announced on March 11, a note from the Environment Ministry’s Wildlife Division says.

‘Scrutiny of maps tough’

An expert who was privy to the process said most of the projects were given “in-principal approval” though only the formal minutes of the meeting would reveal the conditions which projects would have to adhere to.

“In a virtual conference, it’s difficult to scrutinise maps that show the location of the proposed projects. There was also no occasion to ask questions of officials for clarifications,” he told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 3:14:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/apex-wildlife-panel-holds-virtual-conference-clears-infra-projects/article31292163.ece

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