Centre sets up panel to assess environmental impacts of projects in Delhi
The Union environment ministry has constituted a State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority to evaluate projects in the city, a move that Delhi ministers said will make it easier to handle applications in the city.
The authority was defunct for almost three years, till the September 6 gazette order.
The authority will be headed by former Delhi Public Works Department engineer-in-chief Sarvagya Srivastava, who also served as the agency’s principal secretary for a brief duration. Reena Gupta, advisor to the Delhi government, will be a member of the panel, and the state’s special secretary (environment)has been named member secretary.
Srivastava was with the Delhi PWD for 11 years and has been involved in the planning of crucial road infrastructure projects in the city.
Each of the authority’s members will have three-year tenures.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said that the authority will be tasked with protecting the environment and added that the new committee will make it easier to handle applications.
The ministry has also constituted a 13-member State Level Expert Appraisal Committee with experts from various fields. The committee will have a three-year tenure.
In absence of the SEIAA and SECA, all Delhi related projects were referred to the Union ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee for clearance.
In 2020, the Delhi government had sent a proposal for reconstitution of SEIAA and SEAC along with names of experts to the central government, said Rai.
Rai said, “Category ‘B’ projects requiring environmental clearance will not have to wait for the central government’s approval and approval will now be given in a fast-tracked manner by the Delhi government itself. As much as fast tracking will be a sought after solution, we will also make the system more robust and transparent. Environment protection is one of the prime responsibilities of the Delhi Government and we will not compromise upon it.”
According to the Environment Protection Rules, all category ‘A’ projects (mega projects) are approved by an Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. All category ‘B’ projects (large projects) are approved by the SEIAA.
The authority, which will hold monthly meetings, can order regular inspection of project sites that have been given environment clearance to ensure that all norms are being followed. Citizens can also approach the authority to report violations or raise issues.
Reena Gupta, Member, SEIAA said, “We are very happy that Delhi SEIAA has been reconstituted by the Central Government. Now approval and monitoring decisions can be taken at the State Level. We look forward to making the EIA process more robust and transparent as envisaged under the law.”