New Delhi: The government will soon make key changes in the way companies report the environmental impact of their construction projects.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Friday that a draft notification on amendments to the Environmental Impact Asssessment Act, 2006, would be put up soon to invite public comments.
Key modifications proposed include making it mandatory for companies to publicize their environmental clearance, exempting projects that employ non-polluting technologies from environmental impact asssessments (EIA), and fast tracking modernization projects in states that have yet to constitute EIA boards.
Key changes: The Prime Minister’s Office has said that a draft notification on amendments to EIA Act would be put up soon. Kamal Singh / PTI
If modifications take effect, they will significantly impact the way EIAs are conducted and cleared. ‘Mint’ has previously reported instances of companies presenting shoddy reports, often with glaring instances of plagiarism, as environmental clearances.
Government officials say a growing pile of projects needing clearance, as well as understaffed approval committees, are the main reasons that impede thorough and accurate assessments of reports submitted by companies. ‘Mint’ had also reported last year on the likelihood of amendments to the EIA. “As of now, there are 700 industrial projects waiting to be put on the agenda of the clearance committee. It is a welcome move because infrastructure projects need to be put on the fast track,” said K.P. Nyati, head, environment policy division at industry lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry. “...if the project has already been inspected once, then there is no need to re-scrutinize it.”
Environmentalists say compulsory disclosure of EIA is welcome, but are worried about easing laws for project modernization and expansion.
“This is a critical issue,” said Leo Saldanha, coordinator, Environment Support Group, an activist group. “The Chennai airport is being modernized and expanded, and there is a lot of protest. The expansion will dislocate a lot of people as well as affect a neighbouring river, which would involve a clearance.”