Even though the industry portrayed the current process of securing green clearances as an impediment to growth, in reality very few projects actually got rejected on environmental grounds, according to the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.
Releasing an environment and development agenda for the new government at the Centre recently, the public interest research and advocacy organisation pointed out that the official incapacity to monitor a developer’s compliance with environmental conditions meant developers could pollute without any checks.
“The new government must reform and strengthen the environment management systems and green clearance processes to safeguard people’s concerns, and we have a prescription on how they can do it,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General of CSE.
The CSE’s environment and development agenda sought consolidation of all green clearances – environment, forests, coastal and wildlife – so that decisions could be taken understanding the overall impact of projects. It also called for setting up of an independent body for grant of green clearances, instead of several regulators.
Some of the other measures suggested in the agenda to reform the environment management systems and green clearance processes included utilizing State Pollution Control Board resources to monitor compliance with clearance conditions, focusing on project monitoring and not just project clearance, building capacity and reforming institutions for better implementation of regulations, strengthening pollution control boards, making the process of public hearings and public participation in green clearances more transparent and accountable and setting up of a task force to look at how enforcement and penalties for environmental non-compliance could be vastly strengthened.
The agenda also gave a number of suggestions aimed at reducing air pollution, river pollution control, harnessing the development potential of the Forest Rights Act, tapping renewable energy to ensure energy access and rural development.