Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday said the environment impact assessment of the projects would have to be prepared in two years with outer limit of three years.
"It is only after this process, including that of public hearings, is completed that a final decision will be taken by the environment ministry on granting environment clearance," Ramesh said, while reacting to an HT report titled "Green ministry to clear projects faster, 2-3 years" on Friday.
"It in no way means that the clearance would be given in 2-3 years," the minister said.
The minister said that by doing away with the indefinite validity of the terms of reference (TOR), the ministry had tried to ensure that the environmental impact assessment based on TORs corresponds to field conditions around the project site.
There have been instances where the project proponents would take the TORs and conduct environmental impact assessment 2-3 years after the grant of TORs. During this period there would have been changes in and around the project sites.
The time limit on conducting TORs has been imposed to make environmental impact assessment more credible and more meaningful, the minister said.
At least three cabinet minister had accused environment ministry of delaying projects, thereby slowing down country's infrastructure growth.