Solar photovoltaic and solar thermal power projects are not covered by the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, and therefore, need not be referred to the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife for the purpose of securing environmental clearance, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has clarified.
According to the MoEF, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal power projects do not require environmental clearance under the provisions of EIA Notification, 2006.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had earlier brought to the notice of MoEF that some states were not allowing solar power projects to be set up within 10 km. of national parks or wildlife sanctuaries without prior clearance of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife.
In December 2006, the Supreme Court, in response to a public interest litigation filed by the Goa Foundation on the issue of declaration of eco sensitive zones, had passed an order directing that for all activities within the ESZs of a national park or wildlife sanctuary, environmental clearance would be granted after prior clearance of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife. The MoEF has notified guidelines for declaration of ESZs around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Recently, the MoEF wrote to Chief Secretaries of states explaining that projects in ESZs around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries which are not covered under the EIA Notification and do not require environmental clearance would not have to seek prior approval of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife. The letter requested states to suitably advise their Department of Environment and Forests so that the Supreme Court order and the guidelines for declaration of ESZs around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are implemented in letter and spirit.