INDUSTRIAL OR infrastructure projects that have begun work without obtaining prior environmental approval have been given a six-month window, as a one-time opportunity, to apply for necessary clearances even while action is initiated against them for violation of environmental guidelines. The Environment Ministry has modified an earlier draft notification that would have allowed companies to begin work on their projects, or start expansion of existing units, without taking the necessary environmental clearances. Such companies could obtain the approvals at a later date after agreeing to an Environmental Supplemental Plan (ESP) suggested by an expert group.
The draft notification, issued in May last year, was criticised because it made it possible for companies to go ahead with their projects even in the absence of prior environmental clearance and then present it as fait accompli to obtain clearances at a later date, albeit with some fine and additional conditions.
In its latest notification, issued on Thursday, the Environment Ministry made clear that ex-post facto approval can be obtained only in the next six months by companies that have already begun work on their projects.