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Environment Ministry move: ‘Ranking of state authorities to increase efficiency’

The SEIAAs are responsible for providing permissions and environmental clearance for more than 90 per cent infrastructure, developmental and industrial projects in the country, once they assess that these projects have little environmental impact.

Written by Esha Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: January 25, 2022 7:07:02 am
SEIAA, Bhpender Yadav, State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities, India news, Indian express, Indian express news, current affairsUnion Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav (File)

Days after facing heat for its move to rank State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) based on the speed at which they clear proposals and provide environmental clearance for projects, the Environment Ministry on Monday said the move has aimed at “encouraging the efficiency, transparency and accountability in the functioning of SEIAAs’’ without diluting any regulatory safeguards. It also said no SEIAA will be penalised for taking more time in granting permission.

The SEIAAs are responsible for providing permissions and environmental clearance for more than 90 per cent infrastructure, developmental and industrial projects in the country, once they assess that these projects have little environmental impact.

On January 17, the ministry issued an order stating that it will rate the SEIAAs on seven different criteria, which would exhibit their efficiency. The decision was taken by the ministry after a meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary on November 13 last year raised the issue of action taken to enable “Ease of Doing Business”, especially in context of “ranking of states based on the time taken in according clearances”.

“The ministry has taken several initiatives for streamlining the EC (environmental clearance) process and reduce the undue time taken in grant of clearances…. As a step further new rating of SEIAAs has been introduced for encouraging the efficiency, transparency and accountability in the functioning of SEIAAs,” the ministry said in a statement.

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“The ranking system is based on the provisions of EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) Notification 2006 and various guidelines issued by ministry from time to time and designed to encourage the SEIAAs to increase their efficiency in decision making strictly as per provisions of EIA Notification 2006 without diluting any regulatory safeguards. It is pertinent to note that the EIA Notification already provides time-lines for all EC processes,” it said.

“However, there is no negative marking proposed for not meeting the criteria for ranking,” it said. In case of deficiency in proposals, the SEIAA may raise Essential Details Sought (EDS) and the period for which the reply is pending “shall not be counted for calculating the number of days taken by the SEIAA, the statement said.

“Therefore, the SEIAA has complete freedom to do all necessary due diligence before taking decision on project without worrying about the time-line,’’ it said, adding that there is no question of the EIA report quality being compromised due to ranking system.

According to the rating system, if an SEIAA’s average number of days for granting environment clearance is less than 80 days, it will get two marks, for over 105 days it will get one mark. If it is between 105 and 120 days, the state authority will get 0.5 mark and if it takes more than 120 days, it will get no mark.

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