Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Monday issued guidelines for laying optic fiber cables (OFC) under BharatNet-MahaNet Project in forest lands outside national parks and sanctuaries. As part of BharatNet Phase II, MahaNet aims to digitally connect nearly 13,000 gram panchayats with blocks through underground, aerial optical fibre, and extend the broadband connectivity to all the gram panchayats using IP-MPLS technology-based products.
The state government has been empowered under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to decide the cases of diversion of forest lands along roads within the existing right of ways (RoWs) (trench size not more than two meter in depth and one meter in width) not falling in national parks and sanctuaries.
According to these guidelines, in case, the proposed area falls in the RoW of the road passing through national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, general approval is subject to requisite permissions from the State Wildlife Board shall be obtained. However, in case the proposed area falls in the RoW of the road passing through tiger reserves, general approval is subject to requisite permissions from the National Board for Wildlife /NTCA shall be obtained. In the OFC proposals, the user agency shall be at liberty to initiate the proposal under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 prepared for the entire district furnishing other requisite details.
Chief Conservator of Forest Arvind Apte said that the user agency will furnish the details of non-forest areas also to avoid the possibility of wrongly considering some forest patches as non-forest areas. After applying online on PARIVESH portal, it shall move the hard copies of the proposal to the Deputy Conservator of Forests or the Divisional Forest Officer as the case may be, based at District Headquarter.