The Union Environment Ministry has decided to dilute assessment procedures which are required to study the possible environmental damages and their social impact in an attempt to steamroll infrastructure project clearances.
The projects which require environment clearances come to the ministry's Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC) where the time required for final approval was 83-220 days in 2015-16 and 176-336 days in 2019-2020, reported The New Indian Express.
"All projects, placed in the agenda, should be considered by the EAC notwithstanding the non-attendance of the Project Proponent or his consultant in the EAC meeting to make a presentation," said an Office Memorandum issued by the ministry last week.
To cut down the period of the Environmental Clearance (EC) approval, all the meetings of EAC shall be held at least twice a month and all the fresh EC proposals submitted 10 days before an EAC meeting shall be taken up at its meeting.
"Member Secretary ought to ensure that the relevant queries of the division are also pointed out at the time of EAC meetings itself so as to avoid an occasion for such queries before and after the examination by EAC," it said regarding any queries or issues the division may have.
However, Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director, CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program, said that the directive visualises environmental appraisals to straight-jacketed, linear and bureaucratic processes.