New Delhi, June 12: All strategic defence and border road projects within 100 kilometres of the Line of Actual Control between India and China could be approved by state governments under a new policy being formulated by the Centre.
The Union environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar announced today that his ministry has decided to club strategic defence and border road projects along the LAC for “general approval,” authorising state governments to clear them.
“We would like to speed up approvals, but we won’t compromise on any environmental considerations,” Javadekar said today after a meeting with the defence secretary that was also attended by senior environment and defence officials.
Javadekar said the policy would be finalised within a month and would apply to strategic defence or road projects within 100km of the LAC that is about 4,000km long and runs along Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
“Lots of such projects have been held up — this is an initiative to prevent delays, but sanctions will continue to carry conditions,” said Javadekar, who declined to specify how many projects are pending with the ministry.
Senior ministry officials said the “general approval” policy has also earlier been applied to areas affected by left-wing extremism.
Under the UPA government, the ministry had relaxed rules for diversion of forestland for construction of roads involving less than five hectares in areas affected by left-wing extremism — allowing state governments to approve such projects.
But the states would be expected to adhere to environment and forest regulations and inform the Union ministry about the projects they have approved.
“This is primarily to cut short delays in the approvals process,” a senior ministry official said.
The official said the general approval principle would not apply to strategic defence projects located elsewhere — beyond the 100km zone along the LAC.