Easing norms for infrastructure projects, the Union Environment Ministry has extended the tenure of environmental clearances (EC) granted for existing or new projects.
What has been done?
- Easing norms for infrastructure projects, the Union Environment Ministry has extended the tenure of Environmental Clearances (EC) granted for existing or new projects.
- The EC for river valley projects will now have 13 year validity, and nuclear power projects or those involving the processing of nuclear fuel 15 years.
- Projects and activities other than the mining and river valley projects will have their EC valid for 10 years.
- Mining leases are now granted for a period of 50 years but the EC is valid for 30 years. The Central government deems it necessary to align the validity of mining ECs, subject to review and appropriate environmental safeguards.
Why this extension has been given?
- Explaining its rationale, the MoEF&CC said in its gazette notification that nuclear power projects and hydro-power projects have “high gestation” period due to “geological surprises, delays in forest clearance, land acquisition, local issues, rehabilitation and resettlement and such other factors which are often beyond the control of project proponents.”
- One of the conditions of an EC is that a project must begin construction in the period that it has been granted an EC and if unable, a fresh process must begin. This leads to projects being financially unviable.
- In this context, the Central government deems it necessary to extend the validity of Environmental Clearance (EC) for such projects.
About PARIVESH mechanism –
- Developed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), PARIVESH stands for Pro Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single window Hub.
- It is a single window system for appraisal and granting Environmental Clearances and Forest Clearances.
- It is a web-based application which has been developed for online submission and monitoring of the proposals submitted by the proponents for seeking Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) Clearances from Central, State and district level authorities.
- Benefit – This innovative initiative has drastically improved the entire process of appraisal and environmental clearance in the Ministry. It ensures transparency and expedite the process of granting clearance. The important features are that the Project Proponent gets a confirmation on mail about acceptance of his application or can receive objections raised on the application online and can file his reply to such objections online. The Project Proponent can also track the movement of their application at different stages and can see the findings of the Expert Appraisal Committee on their project proposal. This online system has also provided access to previous Environment Impact Assessment Reports, which is a valuable reservoir of information.