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Wildlife nod not required for railway projects: Ministry -Jayashree Nandi

-Hindustan Times

Handbook of Forest Conservation Act, 1980, now reads: “Prior recommendation of Standing Committee of NBWL under the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 shall be obtained, if required, for taking developmental activities in/over an area falling within eco sensitive zones.”

Railway projects, small-scale development works involving construction over less than 20,000 square metres, and under-25 MW capacity hydropower plants will not require approval from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) even if they are located within eco-sensitive zones (ESZs) of national parks or wildlife sanctuaries, the environment ministry has said.

ESZs of 10 km radius were meant to be “shock absorbers” and transition zones from areas of high to low protection for wildlife and biodiversity, as per the ministry’s 2011 guidelines on declaring such zones. The 2002 Wildlife Conservation Strategy also recommends a 10 km buffer around sanctuaries. The Supreme Court in December 2006 directed all states and Union territories to follow the strategy while hearing a plea over a delay in declaring ESZs.

In letters dated July 24 and July 16 to chief secretaries of states and Union territories, the ministry said NBWL’s nod will be needed only for projects that require prior environment clearance or are located in areas linking one protected area to another.

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