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Centre proposes increasing states' ambit to grant environmental clearances - Report

Infra News - Published on Wed, 03 Jan 2018

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Times of India reported that looking to fast-track irrigation and other development works, the Centre has proposed to decentralise its power by increasing the ambit of state government authorities to grant environmental clearances (ECs) to projects involving irrigation and mining of non-coal minerals and minor minerals, including sand. The environment ministry has come out with a draft notification, suggesting amendment to the Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006, which will reduce the burden of central authorities from all such tasks that can be handled by the states for speeding up works.

At present, irrigation projects involving cultural command area (CCA) of more than 10,000 hectares are to be cleared by the Centre (environment ministry expert panel) whereas area of 2,000-10,000 hectares are cleared by state authorities.

The draft proposal, however, has expanded the range of projects for states. Irrigation projects involving CCA between 5,000 and 50,000 hectares will now be cleared by state authorities. The Centre's panel will step in only for projects of more than 50,000 hectares of CCA.

An official of the water resources ministry said that CCA of less than 5,000 hectares will not require Election Commission at all. "This will help in fast-tracking projects under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana which aims to complete all 99 irrigation projects across the country by 2019."

However, environmentalists expressed concern over the draft and said it would hamper regulation as there was no system of accountability at the state level. "The draft notification is quite regressive. There's no evidence to show that state authorities have done their job well in the past. Unless you build capacity at stateblevel, quality will suffer," environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta said.

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Posted By : Nanda Koijam on Wed, 03 Jan 2018
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