Chronicle Reporter, Bhopal
The Chief Minister Kamal Nath suggested the Niti Ayog that at present, for public utility projects, the approval can be granted by State Govt under the Forest Conservation Act 1980. Citing the reason Nath said that Madhya Pradesh has put in untiring efforts for conservation of forests. Resultantly, the state has about 95000 sq. kms forests, which is largest in the country. Looking at the vastness of forest areas it is challenging to carry out development activities, which require multiple permissions, sanctions and approvals. This either delays or halts the development processes.
Kamal Nath said that Every year about 125 applications are submitted online for approval under Forest Conservation Act, 1980. This includes projects from important sectors like irrigation, roads, mining, transmission line, drinking water etc. These development activities are delayed due to lengthy process of getting the required approvals under the FCA 1980.
In view of climatic change and requirement of water for the swelling population, there is a need to have separate realistic river action plans for major tributary rivers.
Nath said that the mineral-rich states must get their legimate share. An overarching policy is needed for such States to check the mineral exploitation and help them have their due share in the profit and tax revenue. A separate policy is also required for employment generation of mining affected people and development of mining affected areas.
The Chief Minister said that in order to sustainably harness the mineral resources, mineral rich States must get prompt clearances for valid prospecting licenses for respective projects. For example, 20 projects from Madhya Pradesh that have valid prospecting license have not been sanctioned the mining lease. Early decision on these will be of immense help.
About devolution of taxes to States, Nath said that there is a need to provide enhanced fiscal flexibility to the States to assist them in discharging their constitutional mandate. The benefit to States was significantly curtailed, as the Central Government also reduced its share of funding in various Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
The Cheif Minister said that the tendency of the Central Government in recent years to raise additional resources through measures such as Cess and Surcharges is an unhealthy development from the standpoint of fiscal federalism. He said that in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism, I would also urge both the States and the Center to agree to an equal share (50 per cent for States, and 50 per cent for Center) of Central resources.