In a move that will speed up environmental clearances for mega construction projects and townships, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has issued a directive stating that such projects need not submit environment impact assessment (EIA) reports.
The reports are an assessment of the impact a project would have on the environment, taking into consideration several factors such as social, economic, geographical and existing infrastructure conditions.
The process of getting clearances after report submission would take at least 3 to 4 months and developers had repeatedly expressed unhappiness over this, stating that these norms delayed projects and increased costs.
The ministry’s move could mean faster clearances for hundreds of pending projects, which had been hit by slowdown, in Mumbai and its metropolitan region.
Projects will be now be scrutinised on the basis of the conceptual plan and information submitted by the developer.
While critics have given a thumbs-down to the ministry’s decision, the chairman of the state expert appraisal committee (SEAC), which clears these projects, Ravi Budhiraja told HT: “The committee can still seek any additional information that they want from the developer about the project to assess environment impact and lay down conditions for compliance before clearing it.’’
Under the earlier norms, SEAC had powers to frame terms of reference for all construction into 20 points, including analysing capacity of existing infrastructure, land use, etc. These powers have now been taken away from the green panel.
“We were being asked to assess everything like projecting traffic estimates to land use and existing carrying capacity of infrastructure and do studies from noise modeling to landscape. Several of these issues are considered by the civic body before giving us building permissions,’’ said a leading developer.
The MOEF amended the existing EIA notification on August 22 based on a report of a high-level committee constituted by it to review provisions of the notification for certain projects.