New Delhi, Feb 25, NNN: The second and final day of the Anil Agarwal Dialogue on Green Clearances saw the participating civil society activists interacting with senior government officials to evolve the agenda for reforms. Making a strong pitch for reforms in the process, Tisha Chatterjee, secretary, MoEF, said that the clearance and monitoring system needed to be decentralised – regional committees and local experts needed to be given more powers.
The Anil Agarwal Dialogue was being organised here over two days by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), and it brought to the fore the various issues and concerns related to environmental and forest clearances in India. The gathering, says CSE, was one of the biggest of its kind with 150 participants from about 100 organisations. Almost every one of these organisations – coming from all over the country — has been fighting a running battle with industry and official agencies over control of their land and water resources.
In a recent study, CSE had analysed the clearances granted by the Union ministry of environment and forests over the last five years – and found that the country saw more clearances in this period than those planned for even during the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans.
According to CSE’s analysis, green clearances are not working for the environment – clearances are being awarded despite destruction of environment and livelihoods of the people. In fact, there seem to be concerted efforts by government and industry to dilute the already existing weak processes.
Says Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and the head of its industry and environment programme: “How much truth is there in the contention of industry that environmental and forest clearances are hampering economic development by delaying projects? We think there is none – this Dialogue was an effort to take our findings forward. We brought together all the stakeholders in this debate — the government, the civil society and industry — on one platform to discuss clearance processes, whether these processes are working, and what they aim to achieve.”
The government seemed to agree that reforms were needed. Said Chatterjee: “The baseline surveys, public hearings and the EIA report should not be done by the project proponents themselves. Independent agencies should do these things and the state may sponsor it.” He also indicated that it was necessary to separate the project clearance and monitoring processes. Currently, the regional offices of the ministry do this job, and the secretary felt that this system was unable to assess the situation on the ground.
He added: “Monitoring remains one of the key areas of concern. After the projects are given conditional clearance, it is difficult to assess whether the project developer is following these conditions. In such cases, fixing responsibilities on sub-regional committees and giving them financial powers may help.”
Chatterjee also pointed out that the government probably lacked a clearer understanding of carrying capacity of the environment: “Right now, we think that if the ambient standards of five-six major pollutants are achieved, the carrying capacity will not be disturbed. The receptors are not taken into account. Of 168 parameters, only eight are being examined in the current environment clearance process.”
The ministry was also of the opinion that EIA consultants needed to be well qualified, and their accreditation by the Quality Council of India was important. The ministry claimed that it has already initiated a system of fixing responsibility on the consultants and project proponents.
What the people want
· Consent of the people is a ‘must’ before granting clearances – and therefore, the public hearing process is extremely crucial. The process, as it stands now, is a mere eyewash and a formality that actually excludes people as stakeholders. The public hearing and its report must become a part of the decision making process; it should be democratised, and the people’s verdict should be final.
· Police or state interference should not be there.
· A mechanism should be developed to prepare independent EIA reports.
· EIA consultants found to be preparing fraudulent EIA reports must get exemplary punishment. Deaccreditation is not sufficient.
· The Environmental Clearance Appraisal Committee (EAC) should be reformed – it should have the required expertise, and the process must be completely transparent. Affected communities must be invited as well.
· Cumulative impact assessment must become the basic clearance mechanism and must be given legal force.
· Post-project monitoring is essential.
· Reforms are needed in the forest clearance process. This cannot remain a monopoly of the forest department.
Most popular news items
- The Tura Times And Salantini Kurang Launched In Garo Hills 3,659 views | posted on April 8, 2011
- Cabinet okays recruitment for fire service dept, pensions for WWII veterans 799 views | posted on October 9, 2014
- KAKCHING GARDEN, UYOK CHING, KAKCHING 454 views | posted on June 27, 2011
- Dad forces son to incest with stepmom in Mizoram 424 views | posted on July 17, 2011
- All Manipur Working Journalists Union President`s home attacked 408 views | posted on August 11, 2012
- Eimi Times Newspaper launched 356 views | posted on November 27, 2012
- Online registration of voters 305 views | posted on October 25, 2012
- About 291 views | posted on February 18, 2011
- Boyfriend arrested in rape and murder case of Ukhrul girl, condemnation continues 269 views | posted on September 13, 2011
- Bomb hoax at Manipur press offices 225 views | posted on August 7, 2012
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- November 1999
TagsAFSPA AIR News Announcements Articles-Opinions Articles/Opinion Asia Assam Assam news Brief News CNN-IBN e-pao Editorial Features google-news Government govt jobs Headlines Human rights IMPHAL India Jobs K-Featured kanglaonline manipur manipur-mail manipur government manipurhub Manipur news meghalaya Meghalaya news Nagaland Nagaland News National North East Notes from Bradford Opinions Photo press release Recruitment 2012 snippets Sports State TECH Top Stories World