Haryana in a fix over eco ministry order
Finding itself in a quandary over an order issued by the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) regarding grant of environment clearance for mining projects within 10 days, Haryana's state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) has made a reference to the MoEF, terming the order "non-implementable".chandigarh Updated: Jun 15, 2012 15:12 IST
Finding itself in a quandary over an order issued by the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) regarding grant of environment clearance for mining projects within 10 days, Haryana's state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) has made a reference to the MoEF, terming the order "non-implementable".
Citing a Supreme Court order of April 16, the MoEF issued an office memorandum on May 18 to chief secretaries of all states, chairpersons and member secretaries of all SEIAAs, chairpersons of state pollution control boards, etc., stating that "liberty is granted to the applicant to approach the MoEF for permission to carry on mining below 5 hectares and in the event of which the ministry will dispose of all applications within 10 days from the date of receipt of the application in accordance with the law."However, the MoEF's environment impact assessment (EIA) notification of September 14, 2006, which necessitates prior environment clearance for mining projects with a lease area of 5 hectares and above and less than 50 hectares, stipulates a time-consuming four-stage process - screening, scoping, public consultation and appraisal.
The chairman, SEIAA, Haryana, RD Sheokand, when asked about the reference made to the MoEF, said the authority had communicated to the ministry that their order asking the SEIAA to dispose of all applications within 10 days could not be implemented in accordance with the law.
"As per the law, a four-stage process for granting environmental clearance has been prescribed by the MoEF. We have asked the ministry as to how to implement these fresh instructions," Sheokand said.
He said they had asked the MoEF to either approach the Supreme Court with a plea for extending the duration of time for disposal of applications seeking permission to do mining or cut short the procedure prescribed in the EIA notification.
A high-level meeting under the chairmanship of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was also convened recently to discuss the import of the MoEF order. Both the advocate general and the law secretary, who attended the meeting, termed the union ministry order "non-implementable."
The long-drawn-out process for grant of environmental clearance can be gauged from perusal of its provisions laid down time by the MoEF.
Sample these: "The regulatory authority will consider recommendations of the state-level expert appraisal committee (SEAC) and convey its decision to the applicant within 45 days of the receipt of the recommendations or in other words within 105 of the receipt of the final EIA report, and where EIA is not required, within 105 days of the receipt of the complete application with requisite documents… The SEAC concerned, in turn, shall consider observations of the regulatory authority and furnish its views within a further period of 60 days… The terms of reference (TOR) shall be conveyed to the applicant by the SEAC within 60 days of the receipt of Form 1... The member-secretary of the state pollution control board (SPCB) concerned shall finalise the date, time and venue for the conduct of public hearing within seven days of the date of receipt of the draft EIA report from the project proponent. A minimum notice period of 30 days shall be provided to the public for furnishing their responses… In case the SPCB does not undertake and complete the public hearing within the specified period, and does not convey the proceedings of the public hearing within the prescribed period directly to the regulatory authority, the latter shall engage another public agency or authority which is not subordinate to the regulatory authority to complete the process within a further period of 45 days..."