Law amended to ease acquisition of forest landThe government has amended the Forest Act and included a new provision which will allow the developer of certain infrastructure projects to acquire forest lands required for the construction of the project by paying a fee.
The government has amended the Forest Act and included a new provision which will allow the developer of certain infrastructure projects to acquire forest lands required for the construction of the project by paying a fee.
According to the new clause included in the act, national priority projects, national pride projects, transmission line projects of national priority and projects that have got investment approval from Investment Board Nepal are eligible to acquire wooded areas by paying money.
The new clause paves the way for the establishment of the Forest Development Fund which will charge the project developer a fee for forest lands for the construction of its permanent structures. The fund will use the fee paid by the developer to create new forests in an equivalent area of similar ecology at similar geographic regions.
The amendment has been endorsed by Parliament, and the Forest Ministry is currently drafting a work plan which will determine the fee that project developers will need to pay for the type of land they acquire. “We are drafting the work plan which will determine the fee developers are required to pay for the type of land
they acquire for their project,” said Sindhu Prasad Dhungana.
“The fee will be determined by the value of the ecosystem of the forest land being acquired by any project. Apart from that, the costs that will be incurred while planting trees on the new patch of land will also be considered before fixing the fee.” The work plan, according to the ministry, will be rolled out within a couple of months.
The new provision in the law has come as a relief to many infrastructure projects that were struggling to get forest lands required for their project. Project developers have been asking that the new provision be inserted in the act for a long time, citing difficulties in acquiring forest lands under the old law. The Investment Board has also been lobbying for making changes in the law to simplify the acquisition of forest lands.
As per the old law, project developers were required to purchase an equivalent area of land in a similar ecosystem and plant trees in order to acquire forest lands for their schemes. Similarly, they were supposed to nurture the saplings planted in the new forest for a period of five years before handing over the land patch to the Forest Ministry.