The Centre has given in-principle approval for diversion of 130.75 sq km of forest land for sustainable development in Great Nicobar Island, the parliament was told on Thursday.
"The Central government, vide letter dated 27.10.2022, has accorded the in principle/Stage-1 approval for diversion of 130.75 sq km forest land for sustainable development in Great Nicobar Island," Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
He said that the project is of significant strategic and national importance. "The area proposed for development is approximately 1.5 per cent of the total area of A&N Islands. In this regard, adequate mitigation measures have been proposed to compensate for the impact of development on flora and fauna," he added.
"Further, more than 50 per cent i.e. 65.99 sq km of the area proposed for diversion is the area for green development where no tree felling is envisaged. Since the scope of plantation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is very limited, therefore, the compensatory afforestation in the arid landscape and in the vicinity of the urban areas would provide greater ecological value," he said.
Choubey also added that keeping in view the importance of the projects and unavoidable requirement of forest land, the diversion of large patches of forest has been allowed in the past as well.
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