Covid Corollaries: Projects mostly at risk in Maharashtra, UP, Tamil Nadu and AP. May 2020
As the Union Environment Ministry is set to give its clearances to a clutch of stranded highway projects in one go, work could soon begin with a combined investments of over Rs 20,000 crore. The Ministry’s blanket approval is enabled by its decision to de-link the environment and forest clearances (EC and FC) for road projects, as per a recent Supreme Court directive.
The move comes in the wake of crucial meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI), aiming to remove the regulatory hurdles for infrastructure projects worth Rs 50,000 crore by March 31. The projects to be cleared by the environment ministry include the Rs 7,700-crore Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad project, the delay in clearance for which led to a stand-off between the concessionaire GMR Group and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Other projects set to be given environmental clearance are Gwalior-Shivpuri, Patna-Buxar and Kota-Jhalwar road projects, among others.
If the environmental approvals are de-linked from FC for linear projects (which all road projects are), it would mean that pending the FC, the projects can commence. According to an environment ministry official, the ministry will 'hardly take any time' to come out with a circular de-linking the two clearances.
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