Notification of The Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Rules, 2023 by the Environment Ministry

The Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Rules, 2023.34 were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change. The Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 are superseded by these Rules.35 Under the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, 1980, or the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, the Rules have been notified.36, 37 The Act prohibits certain non-forest uses of forest land and the dereservation of forest areas. With the central government’s prior approval, such restrictions may be lifted.

Regulations outline the process and timetable for compensatory afforestation, central government project approval, and the start of legal action against violators.

Key features of the Rules include:

Process for in-principle approval: The central government will provide approval in two stages: (i) in-principle approval, and (ii) final approval. It will set up Regional Offices for in-principle approval for certain types of projects. These include: (i) linear projects, (ii) hydro-electric power projects up to 25 MW capacity subject to certain other conditions, and (iii) forest land up to 40 hectares. In-principle approval for certain other types of projects will be provided by the central government. These include: (i) mining, (ii) dereservation, (iii) hydro-electric power projects above 25 MW capacity, and (iv) regularisation of encroachment. The central government will constitute an Advisory Committee for this purpose. The Committee will be chaired by the Director General of Forests. It will have certain officials and experts as members.

Final approval: Following receipt of a compliance report from the state government, the final approval will be granted by the federal government. In accordance with the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act of 2016, the report will determine the payment of compensatory levies and the award of land for compensatory afforestation.

Procedures against offenses: The federal government may designate an officer at the rank of Divisional Forest Officer or Deputy Conservator of Forests of the state government, and higher, to file complaints of Act violations in the Court.

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