Single-window environmental approval portal for infra projects soon

Single-window environmental approval portal for infra projects soon

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) will roll out a unified portal in 2021 that will list the status of all clearances sought by a developer of any infrastructure project, including wildlife and forest consents, and coastal zone regulations. Currently, these approvals need to be applied for and considered separately by three independent panels of the MoEFCC.

The project’s environmental impact will be assessed by the panel based on one form that developers will fill for all clearances and submit uniform information. The ministry says that the unified portal will make the approval or rejection by the panel speedy. A policy is being drafted.

The burden of paperwork simply shifts from the project developer to the ministry as each approval will nevertheless need to be scrutinised under the various laws, which have their individual procedures, formalities, and information disclosures.

Coal transportation

  • Norms for the coal mining sector and thermal power stations have been relaxed by the ministry, allowing thermal plants to change their source of coal irrespective of its ash content or mode of transport from the source.
  • Coal will now be allowed to be transported by trucks covered with tarpaulin sheets, even if the source of the material is situated at a long distanc
  • The office memorandum (OM) to this effect was issued on November 11.

    Compensatory plantations

  • Central projects executed by state agencies will be allowed to take up compensatory afforestation in degraded forest land, instead of non-forest land. Acquiring large stretches of non-forest land is posing a problem for projects which are required to conduct compensatory afforestation against diversion of forest land.
  • Compensatory afforestation for large central projects such as the Char Dham road in Uttarakhand or the 22 green expressways of 7,500 km that the ministry of road transport and highways plan to execute may be exempted from taking up plantations in non-forest land, with this relaxation in place.
  • Public hearings defunct

  • On January 16, offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration were exempted from in-depth impact assessments and public hearings. This legal change came under scrutiny after the oil spill and fire in Baghjan in Assam, because Oil India Ltd had been exempted from public hearings prior to carrying out fresh oil explorations.
  • Hydrocarbon explorations have also been made cheaper and easier. Mining companies have to now pay a fee as per forest land affected by each bore-hole and not as per the total forest area leased out for exploration.
  • Mining boost

  • To prevent any disruption in mining, the environment ministry transferred the forest clearance (FC) of these mines to the new mine lessees for two years, as per guidelines issued to the state governments by the environment ministry on March 31.
  • The environment ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC), in a separate policy decision, had recommended that the validity of FC be extended for 20 years for some mines owned by the government.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020

  • Over 17 lakh objections, comments and suggestions to draft the environment impact assessment (EIA) notification 2020 have been received by the environment ministry. The EIA notification drew heavy opposition because it has a detailed protocol for appraisal of projects that had started operating without approval. So projects that violate norms can be regularised based on fresh approval and asked to submit a bank guarantee.
  • Other controversial clauses include the identification of non-compliance or violation of EC conditions by a project can be done only either suo moto by the project proponent or by any government authority in draft EIA 2020. Public consultation period has been reduced from 30 days to 20 days, etc                                                                             
  • Also read:Stage one clearance enough for non-forest coal mining now

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