As the planet faces climate change and other environmental issues, we cannot put our world at stake for our interests. So the government has taken a step forward to minimize and mitigate the problems related to the proposed or existing project. As the assessment is completed, the report should be given to all stakeholders for suggestions. Then the project proponent can implement the mitigation measures in the information to avoid risk and damage to human health and personal property. Environmental clearance is required for the industries and projects that supposedly damage the environment and living species in one way or another. It serves as legal consent for industries that are unfriendly to the environment. It has been made compulsory under Environment Protection Act 1986. The laws and regulations applicable at the time of environmental clearance are.
- The Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, amended 1991
- The Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986
- EIA Notification, 2006
- Forest Clearance as per Forest (Conservation) Act 1980
- Wildlife Clearance (NBWL) as per Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
- CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) Rules.
Benefits of Obtaining Environmental Clearance
The benefits of Environmental Clearance in a proposed/existing project are knowing the details of the project and what risk factors are involved that may damage the ecosystem. It helps to run the project eco-friendly and mitigate its associated risk.
- Improved Environmental Performance
- Enhanced Compliance
- Pollution Prevention
- Resource Conservation
- New Customers/Markets
- Increased Efficiency/Reduced Cost
- Enhanced Employees Safety
- Enhanced image with the public, regulators, lenders and investors
- Employee’s awareness of environmental issues and responsibilities
Who Gives Environmental Clearance?
Environmental Clearance (EC) for a specific project has been made compulsory by the MoEF (Ministry of Environment & Forests), as per its notification released under the norms of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Environmental Clearance projects are of two types:
- Group A (National level)
- Category B (State level)
The agency involved in category A projects are Impact Assessment Agency and EAC (Expert Appraisal Committee) and for category B Projects, the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).
Stakeholders Involved In The Process Of Environmental Clearance
- Project Proponent
- The Environmental Consultant who prepares EIA on behalf of the project proponent
- Pollution Control Board (State or National)
- The public can express their opinion in Public Hearing
- The Impact Assessment Agency
- A regional center of the MoEF&CC
Process Involved In Environmental Clearance
Environmental clearance is required for 39 projects. In these projects, only some get EC directly. Still, a few projects need EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) reporting to analyses the project in detail if the project is going to hamper the environment.
Environmental Impact Assessment
- UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment as a tool used to identify a project’s environmental, social and economic impacts before decision-making. It aims to predict environmental impacts early in project planning and design, find ways to reduce the harmful impacts, and shape the projects to suit the nearby environment, and present the predictions and options to decision-makers.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) notified EIA legislation in September 2006.
- The notification makes it compulsory/mandatory for various projects such as thermal power plants, mining, river valley, infrastructure (roads, highways, harbors, ports and airports) and industries, including small electroplating or foundry units, to get environmental clearance.
Social Impact Assessment
- It is a process for identifying, analysing, assessing, managing and monitoring a project’s potential positive and negative impacts.
EMP (Environmental Management Plan)
- It consists of the mitigation, monitoring, and institutional measures to be taken in the starting phase of the project or in its operational phase to eliminate the risk and adverse environmental and social impacts to reduce the risk or to eliminate.
- Risk Assessment identifies and assesses the risks to the people participating in the project and the public living nearby the project area. It helps to identify and mitigate risks by finding alternatives.
Wildlife Conservation Plan
- To provide a stress-free environment to wildlife in the project area or impact area and makes sure to meet the basic requirements of the resident wildlife.
Consent to Establishment (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO)
- Consent to the establishment certificate is required before the construction of the project.
- Consent to Operate is obtained after the plant or the project is established according to the mandatory pollution control system.
Hydrological Survey Report
Hydrogeological survey reports have been conducted in the study area to understand the local geology, geomorphology, drains network, aquifer qualities, and well yield and ensure that the project does not harm the water bodies. The protection of natural resources and freshwater is crucial.
Permissions and NOCs required for Environment Clearance
|S.No.||NOCs required pre-approval of EC||Permissions required post approval of EC|
|1||Forest Clearance as per Forest (Conservation) Act 1980||CTE (Consent to Establishment)|
|2||Wildlife Clearance (NBWL) as per Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972||CTO (Consent to Operate)|
|3||CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) Clearance as per issued notification 2011||Certified half-yearly EC Compliance by RO/IRO|
|4||Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) NOC||Green building certification (Voluntary)|
|6||Forest Certificate showing the distance from the project boundary||–|
|7||Airport NOC from AAI for height clearance surrounding the airport||–|
|8||Clearance from NHAI||–|
Importance of Public Hearing
- Public hearing is a key component of Environmental Impact assessment for obtaining EC. This has be conducted as per the guideline to make sure the project have not any harmful impacts on the environment and socio-economic culture.
- In a Public hearing, the committee and the adjacent public would participate and suggest mitigating measures that would be consider
- ed. The project’s employment generation capacity is also ascertained.
- Public comments should be considered in the public hearing to reduce the chances of conflict later in the project clearance stage.
Importance of EC Certification for the Identified Sector
- Environmental clearance is required in almost 39 sectors for the execution and operation of their businesses. With the certificate, one can proceed with the project if the EC is required in that particular sector because EC is a mandatory certification for the sound management of Environmental impacts.
- The consultant helps get the EC certificate and the Environmental Impact Assessment reporting.
|Type of Project||Earlier EC validity (Years) (A)||Further extendable for (Years) (B)||Increased EC validity (Years) (C)||Further extendable for (Years) (D)|
|River valley projects||10||3||13||2|
|Projects other than River valley, Nuclear and Mining Projects||7||3||30 (Subject to adequacy of EIA/EMP to be reviewed every 5 years after 30 years)||1|
Environmental clearance is required for projects or industries that have the potential to damage the environment and living species. It serves as legal consent for projects that fall under this, which are not environment-friendly. It has been made compulsory under Environment (P) Act 1986 and involves 39 projects while requiring EC for all the mentioned projects. However, the EC process needs expert advice and assistance to ensure your project is environmentally friendly. Environmental professionals and consultants can help you get the certification and reduce the chances of refusal of clearance.