Guwahati, Apr 2 : The ministry of environment and forests will meet on April 4 to decide on giving forest clearance for diversion of 74.48 hectares of forestland to construct a broad-gauge railway line in Mizoram.
The 51.3km railway line project between Bairabi in Kolasib district and Sairang in Aizawl district has been delayed and will cost Rs 2,384.34 crore for execution.
The deadline for the project is March 2015.
The Manipur state forest department has cleared the proposal saying the railway line is not passing through any national park, wildlife sanctuary or any protected area. Moreover, the project has been envisaged for the benefit of the people of Mizoram in particular and the Northeast as a whole.
The Mizoram government has notified the land selected for compensatory afforestation as reserved forest. Compensatory afforestation has been proposed over 74.54 hectares of degraded forestland at the cost of Rs 38.14 lakh.
The trees to be felled are in Aizawl and Kolasib forest divisions.
Sources said there should not be much of a problem for the project to get forest clearance as the railway line is not passing through any protected area.
The conservator of forests (central circle) Aizawl, Lalthangliana Murray, in a report said the topography is such that soil erosion may not be a problem, as the vegetation comprises bamboo and other grasses, which are fast growing.
No endangered species of flora and fauna have been found along the proposed railway line.
The department said the railways have not been involved in any violation under the Forest Conservation Act.
The requirement of forestland has been found to be the barest minimum needed for the project.
The department said the route from Bairabi to Sairang is the shortest feasible and had to be changed to avoid the submergence area of the Bairabi dam project.
The railways, in its report, said local contractors would be employed during the execution of the project.
More employment will be generated before completion of the project and after it as well, because of improved communication.
The project is getting delayed and NF Railway would like to see the project get forest clearance so that construction can start at the earliest.
A parliamentary panel has also expressed concern over the slow progress of railway projects in the northeastern region.
It has also recommended to the railways ministry to leave no stone unturned to ensure timely completion of the projects to provide rail links to the people of the region.
Citing an instance, it said while Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal has achieved only 20.73 per cent of the target while 24.61 per cent of work is yet to be completed on the rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra near Bogibeel.