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Draft EIA Notification Proposes Simplification of Procedure & Societal Vigil for Enforcement

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, January 18, 2009 | 11:11 PM

Prime Minister's Office

Promoters to make Public Environmental Pollution Status of Project: Draft Notification Proposes Simplification of Procedure and Societal Vigil for Enforcement

Government of India has initiated the process of further rationalizing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 with the issue of a draft notification inviting comments. These revisions have been made in view of experience gained in the last two years. The proposed changes seek to make the notification more comprehensive, simplify procedure where required and also enhance powers of states with respect to certain types of clearances.

For the first time it proposes to proactively provide for increasing societal vigil on environmental projects by making it compulsory for project proponents to make public the terms of the environmental clearance. The draft notification provides for the project proponent to compulsorily make public at their cost the terms of the environmental clearances obtained by them by advertising in two local newspapers of the district/state where the project is located. In addition, copies of the environmental clearances will also have to be made available by the sanctioning authorities to the local bodies whether panchayats or municipal bodies where the project is located and to relevant government offices at the local level. The Central and State authorities would also place the environment clearances on their websites.

These steps are intended to ensure that the conditions of environmental clearances are strictly complied with by the project proponents and in case of any lapse, this could be brought to notice by the local population or its representatives. This is expected to remedy situations where the enforcement is dependent on enforcement authorities on whom citizens cannot mount any pressure in the absence of their knowledge of the provisions of the environmental clearances. It is also expected that this will move the environmental protection agenda into the public domain and would be in keeping with the spirit of disclosure involved in the Right to Information Act.

Adoption of non-polluting technologies and processes which do not increase the pollution load and conservation of natural resources is sought to be promoted by liberalising existing provisions. Projects for modernisation and expansion using such technologies and processes are exempted from the purview of the EIA Notification. Biomass based power plants up to 50MW capacity and prospecting of minerals are proposed to be exempted from the purview of the notification. Further, in view of the delay being caused to expansion and modernisation projects due to several states not having constituted their EIA authorities yet, it is proposed to exempt a certain category of projects from scoping for three years.

January 16, 2009, Issued by PIB
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