Hanging fire for the past three years, setting up of a national environment regulator for granting green clearances is set to get further delayed with the new government deciding to examine its “feasibility” afresh after conducting an “in-depth analysis”.
The Centre Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to grant it six more months “to take a view in the matter”, and to comply with a statutory provision in the Environment Protection (EP) Act.
Even as the court had first issued the order for a national regulator in 2011 and passed repeated directives in the past six months, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has sought to buy time for delving into the matter.
The Green bench had set April 30 as deadline for putting in place a national regulator, with its offices across the country, for appraising projects, enforcing environmental norms for approvals and to further impose penalties on polluters.
However, the affidavit filed in the court by the Ministry of Environment and Forest stated: “The Cabinet note dated July 1, 2014, regarding setting up of a regulator/Authority under Section 3(3) of the EP Act was placed before the Cabinet on July 9. The Cabinet decided the matter will need an in-depth analysis by the new government, including the feasibility of a setting up a statutory regulator.”
The ministry said in view of the decision of the Cabinet to re-examine the issue, the court may grant them six more months in taking a final call.
The previous government, in its apparent attempt to leave it to the new government for setting up the regulator, had sought time till July 15, pleading it was required to get the views of various ministries, dealing with 39 sectors.
The UPA-II had filed this application in May although a bench led by Justice A K Patnaik only a week ago junked their request to give them six months’ time. The matter, however, did not come up for hearing because of ensuing summer vacation.