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Rating States Based on Faster green Approvals Could Affect Environmental Safety
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Rating States Based on Faster green Approvals Could Affect Environmental Safety

Mumbai: On January 17, 2022, the environment ministry was established. star rating systemto encourage states to dispose of environment clearance applications quickly for development projects. This, experts claim, will weaken due diligence that is required to verify environmentally sensitive projects.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will use the ratings to improve transparency, efficiency, and accountability.MoEF&CC) said.

Kanchi Kohli (senior researcher at the Delhi-based Centre for Environment Impact Assessment) said that the ranking system is distorted in his understanding of what these processes are meant to achieve. Think-tank, the Centre for Policy Research. “It encourages quicker decisions over detailed appraises before taking decisions on whether projects are approved or rejected.”

The new system was created at a moment when the ministry was accused of weakening environment safeguards in order to promote ease-of-business. IndiaSpend reportedJanuary 2020

“This is a perverse incentivizing for bureaucracy, other agencies, to push development projects, not following due procedure that will undermine democratic governance, resources, and rights of communities,” Tushar Dash, independent researcher on forest rights and environmental governance issues in India, said. “This isn’t an isolated incident. There have been a series if notifications, guidelines, and executive directions that were issued by the central governments to try to weaken the statutory safeguards that are in place to protect the interests of communities as well as the environment.

We wrote to the ministry of environment on January 21 asking for their comments on the system’s implications. We will update the story if they respond.

New rule favors ease of business over the environment

The new system ProposalsThe State (or Union Territory) Environment Impact Assessment Authorities are rated on seven criteria. For example, two marks are given to states for clearing a project within 80 days and one mark for clearing it in 105 days. Zero is awarded for projects that take more than 120 days. On January 24, the ministry AnnouncementIf the applications take more than 120 days, there will not be any negative marking.

The Notification 2006 Environment Impact AssessmentProvides a time period 105 daysEC can be granted within 60 days after the appraisal and 45 days after the decision by regulatory authorities.

Dash stated that the rating system gives rise to the desire to undermine all the statutory processes designed to protect the environment and ensure the rights of communities.

The SEIAA reviews all projects classified under Category B. Notification 2006 Environment Impact Assessment. These IncludeProjects like mining projects and hydroelectric power projects have a smaller spatial extent, so they have a significantly lower impact than Category A projects which fall under the authority of the central authority.

The ProcessThe review includes four stages: screening to determine if the activity is subject to further environmental studies; scoping which is where the expert panel addresses environmental concerns and prepares terms and conditions; public consultation; and appraisal to grant or reject environment clearance.

“Such detailed assessments require careful review of all materials and outcomes of public hearings. Kohli stated that experts committees are established to bring in their technical, legal and environmental expertise and conduct detailed scrutiny of any proposals that could have a detrimental effect on people or the environment. IndiaSpend. “Limiting the role of expert boards, reducing the need for inquiry in favor of faster decision, is neither good for the environment nor beneficial to project operations.”

Kohli said that recommending approvals can lead to social conflicts and ecological disasters because of poor baselines and poor assessments. Valid concerns are relegated for post facto studies.

The Take the decisionAfter a meeting presided over by the cabinet secretary in Nov 2021, the rating was decided. This meeting discussed rating states according to the time taken for clearances to be granted. “It was decided that the Star Rating system would be used to encourage states. It is based on the efficiency of the grant of EC and the timeliness of the process. This is meant to be a means of encouragement and recognition, as well promoting improvements when needed.” The ministry.

Kohli said that there is an inherent assumption in the market that quick decisions or approvals will benefit business operations, or will ease their investments flows, which will in turn help improve the economy. “However, the current state of the economy does not result from environmental approval processes as very few projects are held back. India’s business is being affected by deeper issues, including corruption, monopoly and global investment flows.

The government’s push for business freedom has led to a reduction in regulation of the environment. IndiaSpendHad earlier reportedJanuary 2020. We also found that 70% of the rules that were used for specific industries were repealed between 2014 and 2017, after the National Democratic Alliance government came to power.

Another attempt to weaken the environmental safeguards

This is not a new rule that the environment ministry has made that would make it more difficult to protect the environment. Many environmental regulations have been introduced in recent years. These projectsThere have been proposals for highways, power transmission line and railway projects in environmentally fragile areas. Between July 2014 and March 2020 more than 76 projects were approved in the Western Ghats. This area is considered a critical forest area as well as an ecologically fragile zone. IndiaSpend reportedMay 2020

Modifications made in the past three decadesEnvironmental safeguards have been weakened to the point that environmental clearances are now a paper-stamping exercise. IndiaSpendHad reportedSeptember 2020. In September 2020, the central government issued an ModificationDiluting the Framework for Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 2006.All projects that had lost their environmental clearance and were therefore exempted from public hearing were required to apply again.

The 2006 notification has been subject to 67 changes. ModificationsUntil July 2021. The environment ministry issued new guidelines in July 2021. Standard operating procedures(SOPs), for cases of industrial projects operating without prior environmental clearance. Environment Impact Notification (EIA), 2006. These provisions will not deter violations of environmental norms and defeat the purpose of prior environmental clearances required by the EIA 2006. IndiaSpend investigationThis was found in August 2021.

“Demonizing the environmental approval process or lowering the environmental standards has not and won’t improve the economic performance of projects or overall economy. These projects will also lose social legitimacy, as has been the case in many other places,” Kohli stated.

Dash stated, “Many of these business decisions made in favor ease of doing so will increase potential conflicts over resources and land”

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