Based on evaluation of Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index scores, the Ministry of Environment and Forests recently lifted the moratorium on consideration of projects for environmental clearance in case of 10 industrial clusters, identified as critically polluted areas by the Central Pollution Control Board.
In 2010, the MoEF had imposed moratorium on consideration of projects for environmental clearance in case of 43 critically polluted areas/industrial clusters identified by the CPCB. It was envisaged that during the period of moratorium, time bound action plans would be prepared by the respective State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committees for improvement of environmental quality in the identified areas/industrial clusters. The CPCB was assigned the task of finalizing the action plans.
The status of preparation of the action plans by SPCBs/PCCs was reviewed by the MoEF from time to time on basis of inputs from the CPCB. Subsequently, after taking into consideration the information received from CPCB with regard to work initiated by the SPCBs/PCCs for implementation of the submitted action plans, the MoEF passed orders in October 2010, February 2011, March 2011, May 2011 and July 2011, for lifting of the moratorium on consideration of projects for environment clearance in case of 26 industrial clusters/areas. For the remaining 17 industrial clusters/areas, the moratorium continued.
During February – April 2013, the CPCB conducted monitoring in all the 43 critically polluted areas and reassessed the CEPI scores. It was found that in 10 industrial clusters/areas out of the 17 industrial clusters/areas with the moratorium in place, the CEPI score stood below 80 with a decreasing trend in comparison to the CPCB assessment of 2011.
In view of the reassessment of the CEPI scores and also taking into account the fact that action plans for improving environmental quality take time to yield results, the MoEF has lifted the moratorium on consideration of projects for environmental clearance, subject to certain conditions, in case of industrial clusters/areas of Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Asansol (West Bengal), Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Haldia (West Bengal), Howrah (West Bengal), Korba (Chhattisgarh), Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Manali (Tamil Nadu) and Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).
According to the MoEF, the CEPI scores for the remaining seven industrial clusters/areas of Ankleshwar (Gujarat), Chandrapur (Maharashtra), Pali (Rajasthan), Vatva (Gujarat), Vellore (Tamil Nadu), Najafgarh Drain Basin (Delhi) and Jodhpur (Rajasthan), were found to be either above 80 or above 70 and showing increasing trend or no change as compared to the assessments made in 2011. The moratorium in case of the seven industrial clusters/areas therefore continues.
Meanwhile, based on the monitoring conducted by the CPCB in the critically polluted areas during February – April 2013 and the reassessment of CEPI scores, the MoEF has re-imposed the moratorium on consideration of projects for environmental clearance in case of industrial clusters/areas of Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jharsuguda (Orissa), Ludhiana (Punjab), Panipat (Haryana), Patancheru – Bollaram (Andhra Pradesh), Singraulli (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) and Vapi (Gujarat). The eight industrial clusters/areas were among the 26 industrial clusters/areas provided relief earlier. The MoEF took the decision to re-impose the moratorium on the industrial clusters/areas since their CEPI scores did not indicate any improvement in environmental quality even after two and a half years following implementation of the action plans.