Environment ministry rejects Forest panel proposal
The environment ministry has rejected a suggestion of the Group of Ministers (GoM) to form sector-wise forest advisory committees (FACs) to speed up the pace of the project approval process. Chetan Chauhan reports.delhi Updated: May 29, 2012 22:54 IST
The environment ministry has rejected a suggestion of the Group of Ministers (GoM) to form sector-wise forest advisory committees (FACs) to speed up the pace of 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 FACs for each sector, including mining and power. The new format, if accepted, would have meant forest clearance on the lines of environmental clearance, where approval is granted by sectoral expert appraisal committees (EACs). The ministry has, however, not accepted the proposal and the GoM will be informed about the decision on Wednesday. According to a senior ministry functionary, the single FAC is doing its work, and no project is pending before it. “There is no need for sectoral FACs as of now,” the functionary told HT.
Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan is expected to oppose attempts to dilute green rules at the GoM, and will insist that the ministry continue to follow the Supreme Court directions in this regard.
The SC had said that the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) will decide on projects coming up within a 10-km radius of around 600 protected areas in India. “There is no change in that norm,” she said.
Natarajan, clarifying on the HT report on Monday, said no final decision has been taken on curtailing the powers of the NBWL standing committee. She, however, accepted that the issue of curtailing powers of the committee was discussed.
Non-official NBWL members had also asked the ministry to prepare proper guidelines for processing the projects, and discuss important wildlife conservation issues.