By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, October 6, 2017: Odisha government is mulling over an idea to create land bank for compensatory afforestation.

The issue cropped up at a high level meeting to review the progress of forest clearance required to undertake several development projects chaired by chief secretary, A P Padhi on Friday.

Officials were asked to revive the major ongoing development projects in the state awaiting forest clearance. Padhi directed the forest department officers to expedite the forest clearance and approval process to avoid time and cost overrun of the ongoing projects.

Besides, Padhi set timelines for completion of the proposals and transmission of the same to the Central Government.

“The pending projects waiting for Stage-I forest clearances were figured in the meeting. Basically, issues related to National Highways projects, railways projects, projects of Works department and Irrigation department were identified. Many such projects are stuck due to delay in forest clearance. A review was conducted on how we can expedite the clearance process from forest department and also discussions were held on pending work on the sites of various user agencies,” said Padhi.

Half of 66 ongoing major projects have got Stage-1 forest clearance and the rest have got State-II forest clearance. Padhi directed to complete the ground level work for Stage-II clearance and transmit those to Govt of India within prescribed time limit, officials said.