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The time taken to grant environmental clearances is the centre of rank states
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The time taken to grant environmental clearances is the centre of rank states

The Union Environment Ministry will rank the states based upon the time it takes to grant environmental clearances for developmental projects. This is to promote transparency, efficiency and accountability. According to an office memo issued by the ministry on January 17th, a meeting on November 13 last Year by the Cabinet Secretary regarding the action taken under “Ease of Doing Business”, addressed the issue of “ranking of countries based upon the time taken in accordance with clearances”.

“It has been decided that incentives will be given to states by a star-rating system based on the efficiency of granting EC. This is meant to be a way of acknowledging and encouraging as well as to prompt improvements where necessary,” reads the memo sent out to expert appraisal committees and state environment impact assessment authorities.

It stated that the “rating system will encourage transparency and efficiency as well as accountability.”

The proposed ranking system will give two marks to a state environment assessment authority (SEIAA), for granting environmental clearance to projects within less than 80 days. One mark for less than or equal 105 days, 0.5 to 105 to 120 day, and zero for more then 120 days.

SEIAAs receive one mark if they accept a proposal for terms or environmental clearances (TOR) within five days. 0.5 will be awarded for five to seven days. Zero will be awarded for more than seven.

The memorandum states that one mark will be given if the essential details are sought in more than 10 percent of cases. It will give 0.5 marks if it’s 20 percent and zero if its more than 30.

One mark will not be awarded if more then 90 per cent are cleared for new proposals for environmental clearances. Clearance of 80 percent will receive 0.5 marks and clearance of less than 80 percent will receive zero.

“The SEIAA’s rating will be a dynamic process that is based on the SEIAA’s performance over the past six months. Data for a block of six months starting on the first day and ending on the last day of the block period will be considered. This information will be updated at each month’s end. The memo stated that the rating criteria shall be implemented online by PARIVESH, as the portal has been upgraded so that it can capture actions taken on TOR/EC requests.”

Dipankar Saha, a former head of the CPCB’s air laboratory, stated that it is possible to do work in a time-bound way if all mandates have been followed.

Avinash Chanchal, a climate activist and author, said that environmental clearance for projects also impacts the environment as well as rights of people.

He said, “Clearances made in the name of ease of doing business’ cannot be done.”

“A process like this must be inclusive of all parties and ensure justice for all. Clearances cannot be granted to only a few businesses. Chanchal stated that the ministry has the responsibility to protect the rights and livelihoods and not endanger the existence of the people by its decisions.

Jyoti Pantde Lavakare, an environmentalist, stated that the government seems to be ignoring sustainable development goals in favor of monetary goals.

The order does not specify if all norms have to be followed for environmental clearances. She stated that they are not concerned with minimizing environmental impact.

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