Uttarakhand seeks amendment in Forest Conservation Act

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) The highly-forested Uttarakhand has sought amendment of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 to exclude settled revenue lands from the definition of forests.

About 65 per cent of the hill state carved out of Uttar Pradesh is under forest cover.

Making the demand at the 54th meeting of the National Development Council(NDC) here today, Chief Minister Major General (retd) B C Khanduri suggested that if this was not possible then the lands not having forest cover should not be treated as forest.

He also sought ploughing back of funds realised from user-states for obtaining clearance under the stringent provisions of Forest Conservation Act(FCA). The proceeds of compensatory afforestation and net present value realised from user states should be ploughed back in Uttarakhand in the 11th plan for the development of the state, he added.

The Chief Minister also sought Centre's consulative,advisory and technical assistance to reap benefits of carbon trading, saying it has a great economic potential in this enviornment-friendly state.

He said there is a vibrant market where more than 250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents have been traded in the wake of Kyoto protocol but the state has not been able to derive any benefit due to complexity of trading in carbon credits.

Major Gen Khanduri sought Central support to exploit over 20,000 megawatt of hydro power generation potential and for rail and road connectivity.

He said validity of industrial package granted to the state upto 2010 be extended till 2013 as was initially awarded to the state for industrial growth of the new state.

He also sought Central assistance for providing drinking water facilities to half of its population which has no access to it in spite of the state having immense water resources.

The Chief Minister said 35 per cent area in Uttarakhand is suffering from soil erosion and, therefore, the Centre should provide urgent assistance to the state to check it, failing which there would be flight of people from the hills to plains.

UNI

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