Failure to obtain forest clearance halts NH 415 construction

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, 18 Oct: Construction work on Package B (Papu Nallah to Nirjuli) and Package C (Nirjuli to Banderdewa) of NH 415 is yet to start due to failure to obtain forest clearance.

The capital administration has already handed over encumbrance-free land to the contractors for Package C (Nirjuli to Banderdewa). However, the work is yet to start as the forest department has asked the PWD highway department to first obtain forest clearance and then start the work.

Briefing the media here on Monday, Banderdewa DFO Chukhu Loma said that the forest clearance proposal is lying with the government of India. “PWD highway submitted a proposal in 2018 and the forest department immediately forwarded it to the government of India. As per our knowledge, the proposal is lying at the regional office in Guwahati. Everyone needs to work together to expedite the forest clearance,” said Loma.

He rubbished the allegation that the forest department was creating a stumbling block to the construction of the four-lane highway.

“As per the proposal of PWD highway, 29 hectares of forest are to be affected by the construction of the four-lane highway. In return, 58 hectares have to be afforested in some other places as per the laid down norms, and funds for it are to be provided by PWD highway. Let me be very clear, no one is stopping work. But the rules of the land have to be followed while executing any project,” he added.

The DFO cited the example of the rap the forest department received from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over the construction of the Hollongi-Itanagar highway.

“When the Hollongi to Itanagar four-lane highway was constructed without obtaining forest clearance, the NGT took strong note after a citizen of Arunachal filed a case. The forest department had to submit an offence report to the chief judicial magistrate, detailing the violation of forest rules. Similar problems should not be repeated in Packages B and C,” he said, and urged the highway authority to intervene and expedite the forest clearance.

Meanwhile, Highway Chief Engineer S Sumnyan acknowledged that lack of forest clearance will delay the project.

“Forest clearance is taking time. We have complied with everything from our side. Recently I have written to the PCCF in this regard. I hope we get forest clearance timely, so that projects are not delayed. It is a tedious job to get a project sanctioned and conduct tender and all other processes,” the CE said.