Finally, Govt transfers 159 hectares of forest land for IIT Jammu

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Feb 17: Finally, the decks have been cleared for the establishment of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Nagrota area of Jammu district and operationalization of its transit campus from August this year as Government has formally transferred 159 hectares of forest land to the Higher Education Department. More-over, an amount of Rs 10 crore has been released to the Forest Department for different components including compensatory afforestation and compensation of trees.
Official sources told that use of 159 hectares of forest land for construction of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jammu by the Union Ministry of Human Resource and Development through Higher Education Department of J&K Government was deliberated upon in the 91st Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting held on November 30, 2015 under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, who happens to be the Chairman of FAC.
Based on the deliberations of FAC, the transfer of land was approved by the Governor on January 27, 2016 and the same was communicated to the Forest Department by the General Administration Department. Now, on the basis of communication received from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests dated February 10, 2016, the Special Secretary (Technical), Department of Forests, Environment and Ecology vide Government Order No.41-FST-2016 has accorded sanction to the use of 159 hectares of forest land for construction of IIT Jammu in Jammu Forest Division subject to certain terms and conditions, sources informed.
Though the area falls within Eco-Sensitive Zone of Ramnagar Wildlife Sanctuary, yet there is no need of obtaining clearance of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, sources said, adding the Chief Wildlife Warden J&K has communicated to the Govern-ment that as per the Notification dated June 9, 2015 of Union Environment Ministry, educational institutions have been exempted from obtaining prior environmental clearance under the provisions of EIA Notification dated September 14, 2006.
However, the project proponent shall have to abide by the conditions required as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for building and construction projects related to educational institutions, sources said while disclosing that transfer of forest land for construction of Indian Institute of Technology has been formally communicated to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and all other concerned agencies so as to ensure early start of work on the project.
The 159 hectares of forest land has 1650 trees and 40133 saplings but all would not come under axe as only those trees would be felled which will come under the construction area, sources said, adding for operationalization of transit campus in order to facilitate start of maiden academic session of the prestigious institute from August this year, the Forest Department will have to axe only 50 trees and remove around 1250 poles.
The net present value of the forest land transferred for the IIT has been worked out at Rs 14.93 crore while as the compensation of trees has been worked out at Rs 1.93 crore. Similarly, for compensatory afforestation requirement of Rs 3.18 crore has been projected by the Forest Department, sources said, adding as against Rs 20 crore worked out by the Forest Department under different components, an amount of Rs 10 crore has already been released by the Higher Education Department.
About compensatory affore-station, sources said that Deputy Commissioner Samba had proposed the State land in lieu of the forest land but the same was not found suitable for afforestation by the concerned authorities of the Forest Department. As such compensatory afforestation for double the area transferred for the IIT Jammu is to be charged from the user agency and keeping in view this aspect an amount of Rs 3.18 crore has been worked out for compensatory afforestation.
In response to a question, sources said that Forest Department will start felling of trees and removal of pillars within next some days to facilitate creation of infrastructure for transit campus of the IIT.
It is pertinent to mention here that Government has already released funds to the Power Development Department, Public Health Engineering Department and Roads and Buildings Department for creation of infrastructure for the transit campus.
The Power Development Department has already been given funds to the tune of Rs 62.63 lakh while as an amount of Rs 19.26 lakh has been given to the PHE Department against requirement of Rs 1.92 crore. The remaining funds would be released to PHE Department within next some days. Moreover, an amount of Rs 17.69 lakh has already been kept at the disposal of R&B Department for boundary marking while as expenditure on construction of boundary walls would be borne by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development.

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