Policy Matters

CENTRE EASES ENVIRONMENTAL/WILDLIFE CLEARANCES FOR PROJECTS IN ESZ

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Meera Bhardwaj

The Centre has come out with significant changes to ease out both environmental and wildlife clearances for speedy implementation of developmental projects that falls around protected areas like national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has made significant procedural changes for prior clearance from Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife (SCNBWL) for notified Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

In this regard, the MoEF sets clear procedures for consideration of developmental projects located within 10 km of National Park/Wildlife Sanctuary seeking environmental clearance under the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006. These procedural changes are in suppression of the earlier MoEF orders of 27.2.2007 and 2.12.2009. 

In a major shift, for proposals involving project located outside the stipulated boundary limit of notified ESZ and located within 10 km of National Park/ Wildlife Sanctuary, prior clearance from SCNBWL may not be applicable.

Such proposals from environmental angle including impact of project on the wildlife habitat, if any, would be examined by the sector specific Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and appropriate conservation measures in the form of recommendations shall be made. These recommendations shall be explicitly mentioned in the environmental clearance letter and shall be ensured by the member secretary concerned.

Photo Credit : Tharangini

LOCATED WITHIN ESZ

The MoEF states for proposals involving developmental projects located within the notified ESZ shall be regulated and governed by the concerned ESZ notification. For developmental projects located within the notified ESZ and covered under the schedule of the EIA Notification 2006, prior clearance from SCNBWL is mandatory. In such cases, the project proponent shall submit the application simultaneously for grant of Terms of Reference as well as wildlife clearance.

NO ESZ FINAL NOTIFICATION

Further, the Centre states that proposals involving project located within 10 km of National Park/Wildlife Sanctuary wherein final ESZ notification is not notified (or) ESZ notification is in draft stage, prior clearance from SCNBWL is mandatory. In such cases, the project proponent shall submit the application simultaneously for grant of ToR  and environmental/wildlife clearances.

Photo Credit : Tharangini

OUTSIDE NOTIFIED ESZ

In other cases, involving projects located outside the stipulated boundary limit of notified ESZ and located within 10 km of the PA, prior clearance from Board may not be applicable. However, such proposals from environmental angle including impact of project on the wildlife habitat, if any, would be examined by the sector specific EAC and appropriate conservation measures in the form of recommendations shall be made.

However, for proposals involving mining of minerals within the ESZ (or) one kilometer from the boundaries of National Parks and Sanctuarieswhichever is higher, is prohibited in accordance with the order of the Supreme Court dated 4.08.2006, the MoEF order states.

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