Manali ISBT gets forest clearance after 9 yrs


By: ML Verma

Shimla (Mar 10): The proposed Manali inter-state bus stand got forest clearance from the Union Environment & Forest Ministry after a gap of nine years as HP Bus Stands Management & Development Authority (BSMDA) received the approval from principal conservator of forest (Government of India) on January, 17, 2011, under Forest Conservation Act-1980.

While responding to a supplementary query raised by Govind Singh (Kullu-BJP) during Question Hour in the Assembly, state Transport Minister Mohinder Singh Thakur said that in year 2002 it was decided to construct an ISBT near the slaughter house at Manali and a piece of 1.9831 hectare of forest land was selected for the purpose.

The minister stated that the project got delayed due to delay in getting forest clearance. He also informed the member that after getting nods from the Union forest ministry in this regard. BSMDA appointed M/s IL&FS as consultant and the latter submitted its Phase-I report, which was under consideration of state government. Thakur said that the government has decided to built the ISBT on Design Build Operate Transfer (DBOT) basis.

An all-weather hill destination, Manali was recently short listed as the best hill destination on tourism rating, which witnesses footfall about 30 to 40 lakh annually. Later the issue also figures in the House, which was adopted in a form of private member bill brought by Roop Singh Thakur (Sundernagar-BJP) seeking exemption under FCA-1980 to hill states for various development schemes.

Replying over this issue, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that under FCA-1980, 1m246 exemption have been granted to the state and more than 500 cases were still pending seeking exemption under the Act.

Conceding the demand of members, Chief Minister said that the government would like to send this bill in amended form to the Centre seeking complete exemption from the Act for development schemes of hill states up to five hectare in area or the Centre should bear the extra cost being remitted on NPV (net present value). The Chief Minister said that a forest office of the Union government should be placed in Himachal Pradesh so that workload on its concerned current office at Chandigarh could be eased out and state would be able to expedited clearance under the Act.

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