The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has now further eased digging for underground compressed natural gas (CNG), piped natural gas (PNG) and slurry pipelines along the roads.
Earlier, under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, laying of optical fibre cables (OFCs), telephone lines, drinking water supply pipelines, and electricity cables was allowed but not PNG/CNG and slurry pipelines. This meant they had to get separate clearances and also follow compensatory afforestation norms.
Now, they have been included in the list. This also means that MoEFCC has exempted these projects from compensatory afforestation (CA). Instead, in case laying such pipelines involves felling of any trees, the user agency will have to plant 10 trees for each tree marked for removal in consultation with the local forest department.
On July 27, 2020, MoEFCC issued an advisory in this regard. The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) recommended that CA may not be levied in case of all such pipelines within the right of way of existing roads with trench size not more than two metres in depth and one metre in width.