A government panel, set up to suggest ways to improve the ease of doing business, has recommended that ministries — including coal, mines, steel, power, petro-chemicals and environment — work out a 20-year “perspective geographical plan”, indicating preferred locations for future projects, so that environmental clearances are granted at the earliest without upsetting ecological balance.
Such a plan of the steel ministry, for instance, should indicate preferred sites for projects with an envisaged production of, say, 400 million tonne of steel per year, based on their potential to harm environment.
The 11-member panel, set up by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and chaired by former DIPP secretary Ajay Shankar, has also suggested the setting up of standing expert committees on regulatory affairs at the central as well as state levels to undertake independent regulatory impact assessment and engage with sectoral regulators. The idea is to reduce the regulatory burden of businesses and ensure actual costs of regulation don’t outweigh the intended benefits. However, the role of such a committee would be restricted to only making recommendations, and it won’t act as a super regulator.
On the “perspective geographical plan”, the panel has suggested the list of all such sites be firmed up through a transparent consultative process, and a detailed mapping of flora, fauna etc with the use of satellite imagery be undertaken, along with public hearings.
The project developer may be spared the burden of putting together land for compensatory afforestation and should be only required to pay the net present value (NPV) of the forest land being diverted for non-forest use, it says. FE