PM Modi laid the foundation for ally Chandrababu Naidu's dream, project — the new state capital at Amaravati — in last October. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar had assured Andhra Pradesh in February this year that all green clearances to the state's new capital Amaravati would be given in a month's time.
It's an assurance he had also given in July last year, calling the new capital a project of national importance. All the right noises have also been made recently suggesting that a blanket approval may be given with policy changes face-lifting it for all new state capitals. However, the political bonhomie between Javadekar and Naidu has certainly not created a green channel for the ambitious state project.
The state has been forced to decrease forest land diversion from 19,000 hectares to about 13,000 hectares and at a meeting held by the environment ministry committee, green clearance to the project has been held back pending more information and details of land use. The Forest Advisory Committee — the apex body on forest clearances in the environment ministry which has drawn much flak for doling out green clearances — is treating project Amaravati with more caution.
At its meeting held last week, FAC noted that while the state has finally agreed to decrease affected forest, there is need for more details of its master plan with all land use information for according cleranace — an issue that could trouble the state as there are said to be plans to also set up residential and commercial units at Amaravati.
As per rules, no commercial or residential activity is permitted on forest land. "There are serious concerns over land use. Clarity is needed on this aspect as this cannot be permitted. Also how will they fulfill compensatory afforestation criteria and where will they plant the new trees has to be clearly committed," said a person familiar with the proposal.