MoEF reject GoM proposal on multiple FACs | delhi | Hindustan Times
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MoEF reject GoM proposal on multiple FACs

The environment ministry has rejected a suggestion of Group of Ministers (GoM) to have sector-wise forest advisory committees (FACs) to fasten the project approval process.

delhi Updated: May 28, 2012 21:05 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The environment ministry has rejected a suggestion of Group of Ministers (GoM) to have sector-wise forest advisory committees (FACs) to fasten the project approval process.

The GoM on coal and mining issues headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had asked the environment ministry to set up an FAC each for a sector. It would have meant a committee to consider mining projects and another for power sector projects.

The new format, if accepted, would have meant forest clearance on lines similar to environmental clearance, where approval is given by sectoral Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC).

The ministry has, however, not accepted the proposal and GoM will be informed about the decision on Wednesday.

According to a senior ministry functionary, the single FAC is doing it work efficiently and no projects are pending with it. “There is no need for sectoral FACs as of now,” the functionary told HT.

Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan is expected to oppose the move to dilute green rules at the GoM and will insist that the ministry will continue to follow the Supreme Court directions in this regard.

The Supreme Court had said that National Board for Wildlife will consider projects coming up within 10 kms radius of around 600 protected areas in India. “There is no change in that norm,” she said.

But, as HT had reported on Monday, Natarajan said there was discussion on keeping tiger and elephant areas out of purview of NBWL’s standing committee.

Primarily because non-official NBWL members had refused to become “clearing house” for all projects under consideration. The non-official NBWL members had also asked the ministry to prepare proper guidelines for processing the projects and discuss important wildlife conservation issues.

As a result, many road and infrastructure projects passing through wildlife areas are struck. So, the ministry decided to limit the functioning of the standing committee in forest outside protected areas. At a meeting in February 2012, when the guidance document for projects to be considered by the committee was reviewed, the roadblocks were inserted. The changes as reported by HT were never placed in public domain and circulated internally.

Natarajan, however, said no rules have been changed and there is status quo regarding the projects to be considered by the the standing committee. That is, the committee will consider the projects outside protected areas, as referred by FAC. Non-official members of NBWL said that was not the case earlier.