Environment Ministry proposes more amendments in EIA notification

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel April 13, 2022 07:01

Environment Ministry proposes more amendments in EIA notification


The Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry on Tuesday published a set of amendments to the EIA notification that provides for exemption of environmental clearance to several projects, including defence related/border areas projects, up to 25 MW thermal plants based on biomass, or expansion of terminal building of airports.

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry on Tuesday published a set of amendments to the EIA notification that provides for exemption of environmental clearance to several projects, including defence related/border areas projects, up to 25 MW thermal plants based on biomass, or expansion of terminal building of airports.

The proposed amendments to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 are regarding requirement of prior Environmental Clearance (EC) for the projects deemed as public utility works, as per the notification published on Tuesday but bearing the date of April 11.

The Environment Ministry has already proposed a volley of amendments that have been deemed as “dilution: of the EIA process and criticised heavily by environmental activists. Those amendments, introduced in 2020, are yet to be finalised. Coming on the back of that, these amendments are further likely to draw flak.

The exemptions come with the condition that standard environmental safeguards for such projects would be followed by the agency executing such projects or the incremental environmental impacts can be catered by providing for environmental safeguards which can be built into the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) at the time of grant of such clearances.

“Such exemptions are bound to happen keeping in view the requirements of the people. Our only concern is that these EMPs are not followed honestly. We need a stringent mechanism for it,” said a senior Ministry official.

Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav told IANS: “The Ministry is alive to the concerns about proper EMP implementation. We are working out the modalities to address all such issues and will soon come out with a policy regarding the same.”

Currently, thermal power plants up to 15 MW based on biomass or non-hazardous Municipal Solid Waste using auxiliary fuel such as coal, lignite/petroleum products up to 15 per cent are exempted from the requirement of EC. The amendment proposes no EC would be required for such thermal plants up to 25 MW.

Taking into account the issues of livelihood security of fishermen involved at fish handling ports/harbours and less pollution potential of these ports/harbours compared to others, and that such exclusive ports cater to the small fishermen whose boats have lesser pollution potential, the Ministry has proposed to increase the exemption threshold in terms of fish handling capacity for ports/harbours which exclusively handle fish from 10,000 tonnes per annum to 30,000 TPA.

It has also proposed to exempt from the requirement of EC for highway projects related to defence and strategic importance in border states that are sensitive in nature and, in many cases, need to be executed on priority keeping in view strategic, defence and security considerations.

“However, these would be subject to prescribing Standard Operating Procedure along with standard environmental safeguards for such projects for self-compliance by the Agency executing such projects,” the proposed amendment said.

The amendment proposed also sought to exempt expansion of airports but only when it involved expansion of terminal building areas. “Most of the expansion activities with regard to existing Airports are related to Terminal Building expansion without increase in existing area of the Airport, rather than expansion of runway, hanger etc., and therefore involves only incremental environmental impacts which can be catered by providing for environmental safeguards which can be built into the Environmental Management Plan at the time of grant of such clearances at the local level,” the Ministry’s proposal said and mentioned the relevant parameters.

The Ministry has also proposed to exempt the additional width at toll plaza and junction improvement at intersections from being included in Right of Way for National Highways more than 100 kms.

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel April 13, 2022 07:01