The Central Empowered Committee for Environment and Forests has directed the state government to rationalise the demand of land for Central University of Himachal Pradesh. The state had sent a case for diverting 7,000 kanal forest land at Dehra and Dharamsala for constructing two campuses of the university.

The Forest Department had evaluated that diversion of the 7,000-kanal land, which has about 1 lakh trees. It is expecting that the committee was of the view that since the entire forest land was earmarked by the state for the construction of the university, the demand of land for the project can be rationalised.

Furqan Qamar, Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the university, admitted that the central committee had asked the state to rationalise the demand of land for the university. He, however, said the Chief Secretary, Himachal Pradesh, has written back to the committee that the decision regarding the amount of land required for the project was taken by the Central Site Selection Committee keeping in view the future expansion of the university. He also clarified that though the university was taking over about 7,000-kanal land, only about 44 acres would be put under construction at Dharamsala and Dehra. The remaining land would be maintained as a green patch.

The VC said the matter was also taken up with Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal in the recent past. He has assured to intervene in the matter so that the land for the university was allotted at the earliest. The VC said as per his information, the permission process for allocation of the land was at its last leg.

The process of allotment for land for the university has been delayed by about two years since the state chose to earmark forest land for the project. Diversion of any kind of forest land for other purpose has to have permission of the central committee on environment and forests formed on the orders of the Supreme Court.

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