Environmental Clearance Process:
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has introduced a number of changes to the environmental clearance process for projects development projects while proposing to exempt others entirely from its jurisdiction due to which the environmentalists are showing concern.
- These proposals and changes came in the form of two office memorandums and two notifications that were issued between 11th and 12th April 2022.
- For 39 types of developmental projects environmental clearance (EC) is mandatory. The developmental projects include hydropower, mining, thermal power, etc.
- The clearance process is outlined by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification that was issued in 2006.
Proposed changes in the exemption of strategic highways
- In its draft notification that was issued on 11th April 2022, the union environment ministry had proposed to exempt highway projects across the country from the environmental clearance process that would be serving the strategic interests of India.
- The notification also stated that the project proponents must comply with a set of standards that will be looking to safeguard the environment.
- Also, the notification has proposed that 15 MW thermal power plants that mainly function on solid waste and biomass and uses up to 15 per cent of coal, petrol, or lignite as an auxiliary fuel, must be allowed to increase, to up to 25 MW, their capacity without the clearance.
- This draft notification is also looking to exempt the expansion of ports for fishermen who are using boats with less potential of pollution potential.
- It also allows the terminal buildings’ expansion within airports, provided they do not take more land.
- This draft notification has been opened for public feedback for a period of 60 days from its date of publishing.