Bhubaneswar: In a major decision, the State Government has decided to create a land bank for the purpose of compensatory afforestation.
Revenue and Disaster Management, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Satyabrata Sahu on Monday issued a resolution prescribing detailed guidelines for creation of the land bank.
Recently, the Central Government, in supersession of the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2003, have made the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022. The Rules prescribes that the minimum size of the Land Bank shall be a single block of 25 hectares provided that in case a Land bank is in continuity of a land declared or notified as forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or under any other law.
For a protected area, tiger reserve or within a designated or identified tiger or wildlife corridor, there shall be no restriction on size of the land.
The situation with regard to unavailability of land is getting worsened with passage of time. It has become difficult to find Government land for implementation of projects even for development purposes funded from the State Exchequer, the ACS said.
On many occasions, land reserved for specific purposes in RoR are now required to be de-reserved for other public purposes. So, due to paucity, making available only the above categories of land for creation of Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank has become a difficult task for the State Government, Sahu said.
Now, the Government has decided to create a Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank in each district of the State by including degraded revenue forest lands only.
The lands to be included in the land bank should not have been notified as forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or any other law nor managed as forest by the Forest Department.
The lands included in the Land Bank will be provided only for projects undertaken by Central Government Ministries/Departments and State Government Departments requiring land for compensatory afforestation.
While lands included in the Land Bank will be provided to State Government Departments on free of all charges basis, the Central Government Ministries/ Departments will have to pay the cost of the land as would be fixed by the Collector of the concerned district.
As per the guidelines issues for creation of Land Bank and its use, it is preferable if the land parcel identified for Land Bank is contiguous to RF/ PRF/ PF as it will help in scientific management of the forest land.
The Forest Canopy Density (FCD) of the degraded forest land should be less than or equal to 0.4 as per Decision Support System (DSS) of the Forest Survey of India to be verified by the concerned DFO, it said.
The land should be free from encroachment and encumbrances. Non- encroachment and non- encumbrance certificates are required to be furnished by the concerned Tahasildar.
As far as possible, the land should be suitable for carrying out Compensatory Afforestation and suitability certificate is to be furnished by the concerned DO.
Land for Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank will be jointly identified and verified by the officials of State Forest Department and Revenue Department, not below the rank of Range Officer and Revenue Inspector respectively.
A joint verification report to that effect will be signed by the Range Officer and Revenue Inspector certifying that the land parcel meets the stipulated criteria and the joint verification report shall be submitted by the concerned Revenue Inspector to the Tahasildar.
The Tahsildar shall, on receipt of the joint verification report, cause verification with reference to the existing Record- of- Rights and the DFO shall record his remarks for CA suitability certificate and forward the report to the Collector.
The Collector after verifying all the records and after being satisfied, will recommend the proposal with detailed land particulars to Revenue Department for inclusion of the land parcel in Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank of the district.
Revenue & DM Department after obtaining Government approval shall notify the recommended land parcel as Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank.
The notification issued by Revenue & DM Department along with detailed land schedule of the Land Bank shall be uploaded by the Collector in the district website.
An user agency like State Government Department or Central Government Ministry/ Department requiring land from Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank need to apply before the District Collector along with justification for locating the project in forest land and the Collector.
After being satisfied with the justification, the Collector may give permission in writing to such a user agency to take land from the Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank.
The user agency may include the details of that land parcel allowed by the Collector in its Compensatory Afforestation Plan’ while submitting an application for approval of the Central Government.
After receipt of In- principle’ approval of the Central Government, the user agency will move to the Collector. The user agency shall, after receipt of the communication, make payment of the cost of the land in the appropriate Head of Account of Revenue Department and submit a copy of the documentary evidence of such payment to the Collector.
The Collector, after having received the documentary evidence of payment of cost of the land from the user agency, shall order for handing over the required land from Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank and on receipt of the order from the Collector, the concerned Tahasildar will mutate the land in the name of the State Forest Department.
On the other hand, if the user agency is a Department of the State Government, after receipt of In- principle’ approval of the Central Government to the proposal of the user agency, the Collector will order for handing over the required land from Compensatory Afforestation Land Bank and on receipt of the order from the Collector, the concerned Tahasildar/s shall mutate the land in the name of the State Forest Department.
After mutation in its name, the State Forest Department will notify the land as Reserve Forest / Protected Forest (PF) under the relevant provisions of the Odisha Forest Act, 1972 prior to submitting the proposal of user agency to the Central Government seeking final approval.