Monday, October 27, 2014
Clear India's Environment Mission - Update I
India's development has reached a defining moment. The govt., with the intention of making India investment friendly, has put the environment virtually at a Clearance Sale. The latest in the series are as follows.
Thanks and regards,
1. Now green clearance even without acquiring necessary land for projects. This has been happening illegally already. Now, the companies get legal route to destroy our environment even without fulfilling the basic criteria for investments...
‘Full land acquisition not a must for green sanction’
Clara Lewis & Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN | Oct 27, 2014, 02.19 AM IST
NAGPUR/MUMBAI: Full land acquisition will no longer be a pre-requisite for a project seeking environment clearance (EC). The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has said credible documents will be considered adequate by the environment appraisal committees (EAC) and state environment appraisal committees (SEAC) while scrutinizing proposals.
The MoEF also made seeking environment clearance for development projects within 10km from national parks and wildlife sanctuaries easier. The proposals will now be directly dealt by the National Board for Wildlife standing committee, led by Union environment minister, instead of the state wildlife boards. The ruling is in line with the Modi government giving a leg-up to infrastructural projects and reducing "unnecessary rules" that hindered "general growth". It is likely to expedite works relating to mining, road widening, irrigation, industries, power plants and installation of transmission lines.
In an office memorandum issued early this month, the MoEF has said that in case the land for a project is proposed to be acquired through government intervention, then a copy of preliminary notification issued by the state government concerned for land acquisition as per the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, can be submitted. In case the land is being acquired through private negotiations with land owners, then credible document showing intent of the land-owners to sell it for the proposed project is to be submitted.
The office memorandum has been issued as there were no guidelines on the criteria to be followed with regard to the extent of land needed to be acquired to obtain an EC for a project. All EACs/SEACs had been applying different criteria. The MoEF has warned that the EC will be invalid in case the actual land for the project turns out to be different from the one considered at the time of appraisal and mentioned in the EC. The Confederation of Indian Industry welcomed the move and said it will help fast-track the clearance process.
If land for a project is being acquired through govt intervention, then a copy of preliminary notification issued by the state can be submitted. If it is being acquired through private negotiations, then a document showing intent of the land-owners to sell it for the project is to be submitted.
1. India's fast paced mission to clear remaining good forests and wildlife continues in full swing. Now, wings of state wildlife boards clipped...
MoEF clips wings of state wildlife boards
Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN | Oct 27, 2014, 03.40 AM IST
NAGPUR : The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has made seeking environment clearance for development projects within 10km from national parks and wildlife sanctuaries easier by approaching the National Board for Wildlife directly instead of the state wildlife boards. The proposals will now be directly dealt by the NBWL standing committee headed by union environment minister.
MoEF has clarified that the need of NBWL standing committee's recommendation for projects outside the limits of national parks and sanctuaries is not governed by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. "Any proposal for environment clearance outside parks need not be taken up for processing at the state level. Wherever applicable, such a proposal will be referred to the ministry itself and then NBWL," said ML Srivastava, deputy inspector general of forests.
As reported by TOI on September 15, the NBWL now comprises retired forest officials who, wildlife experts claimed, "can easily be manipulated to toe the government line". Many experts who have spent decades in wildlife conservation seem to have been deliberately kept out. There is no representation from Central India which has 13 tiger reserves and over 30 wildlife sanctuaries.
The new ruling is in line with the Modi government giving a leg-up to infrastructural projects and reducing "unnecessary rules" which hindered "general growth". The implications, however, will be huge and environmental losses can only be gauged once the process is set into motion. The rule is likely to expedite works relating to mining, road widening, irrigation, industries, power plants, installation of transmission lines etc.
Vidarbha will feel the benefit and loss of this move straightaway. The controversial four-laning of 37-km NH7 by National Highway Authority Limited (NHAI) between Mansar and Khawasa will now be out of the purview of state board for wildlife (SBWL). The road widening has already been granted environment clearance way back in 2006. Now many project proponents will bypass SBWL.
The road widening cuts Mansinghdeo wildlife sanctuary and also Central India's biggest tiger corridor between Pench-Nagzira-Kanha-Tadoba. Maharashtra's chief wildlife warden Sarjan Bhagat has already forwarded the proposal to SBWL in August with a condition to follow Wildlife Institute of India recommendations.
MoEF issued a memorandum on October 26, asking states to advise the projects proponents accordingly. The ministry stated that it had issued a circular on February 27, 2007 based on a December 4, 2006 Supreme Court order on a PIL (460/2004).
The last line of the circular stated that projects will be granted EC subject to proponents obtaining clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. However, MoEF says "the phrase obtaining clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, may be read as prior clearance from the standing committee of NBWL". "It implies that till now the circular was being misinterpreted by the state forest departments. It is a good move as SBWL meets once a year or even more. This delays the projects," said one of the proponents.
With the fresh MoEF directive, NHAI officials feel four-laning of stalled NH7 will be expedited as matters will be solved in Delhi. However, Bhagat said it is true that NH7 road widening proposal will not be placed before SBWL now, but said, "If NBWL has cleared road widening on MP side considering WII recommendations, it will have to follow the same principle on Maharashtra side. Law of land should prevail."
On MP side, NHAI has scaled down its demand for forest land from 71 hectares to 36 hectares. If MP chief Narendra Kumar is to be believed, NBWL has already cleared road expansion subject to WII recommendation which calls for elevated structures in vulnerable forest patches.
With a view to facilitating early decision-making by the standing committee of NBWL in respect of development projects requiring wildlife clearance and located within 10km of national parks & sanctuaries following procedure has been decided.
* While prescribing terms of references (TORs) for projects requiring wildlife clearance, henceforth, additional TORs shall be mandatorily incorporated.
* Copies of such TORs issued to projects will be endorsed to wildlife division in the ministry.
* After examining the proposal for EC, the expert appraisal committee will make appropriate recommendations and if need felt may invite chief wildlife wardens of states concerned to give views on the proposals.
* The wildlife division in MoEF will record NBWL recommendations and return to the impact assessment division for further processing and approval of EC to the project.