Impact of dilution of norms for linear infrastructure projects

Impact of dilution of norms for linear infrastructure projects

Question: Sustainable development is the key to national progress. Discuss the impact of dilution of norms for linear infrastructure projects in India..

Linear infrastructure projects are those projects which intrude into forests. This includes roadways, trains and power lines in addition to dams and mining clearings.

• Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has diluted the norms for such projects

• Central agencies executing linear projects across forests have been given the permission to cut trees following the first stage approval as per the Forest Conservation Act, 1980

• Road and power lines provide support for economic growth, development, mobility of the population and delivery of key services and products

• However, they also affect wildlife conservation, ecosystems, habitats and forest dwelling tribes as well as communities

• Such projects can also cause habitat fragmentation; for instance, NH7 across the Pench and Kanha reserves

• In mountainous regions, construction of such projects triggers not only forest and habitat destruction, but also landslides and erosions; natural vegetation stabilises slopes and prevents landslides

• Erosion and weed proliferation also emerge through construction activities involving dumping of debris and cutting down of native plants on the roadside

• Millions of animals are killed alongside roads through vehicular collisions; power lines also damage wildlife as do rail collisions

• If approval is given for a particular project, it should take the surrounding wildlife population into consideration

• It is also vital to protect communities whose livelihoods depend on the forest ecosystem

• Moreover, linear projects affect areas greater than their allocated coverage; each km of road will impact at least 10 hectares of habitat

• Multiple linear intrusions can impact wildlife in a negative manner

• Linear infrastructure projects are needed for economy as are forests; a balance has to be found for sustainable development

• Knowledge society can protect habitats and initiate sustainable development for national progress using best resources and digital tools

• Linear projects must promote climate change adaptation and mitigation

Facts and Stats

• National Board of Wildlife has considered projects over 2,300 hectares of land across wildlife sanctuaries and national parks

• Forest Advisory Committee has put forth the diversion of 3,300 hectares of forests for 28 projects, most of them linear.

• 2006 study found that on steep hillsides, roads can increase surface erosion as well as land slides by 10 to 100 times

• Studies estimate that vehicular collisions kill as many as 10 animals per kilometre per day

• Bandipur Tiger Reserve has tree deaths which are 2 and half times higher on roads than forest interiors as per a 2009 study.

• Roads are ecological traps according to a 2009 comprehensive scientific review as are linear intrusions according to a Standing Committee 2011 report of the National Board for Wildlife
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