The Model Code of Conduct which came into effect on March 5, 2014 following announcement of the schedule for general elections to the Lok Sabha by the Election Commission is creating hurdles for projects awaiting environmental, forest, wildlife and other clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The MoEF had written to the Election Commission about a month back seeking certain clarifications with regard to grant of clearances under various statutes but is yet to receive a response.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India recently wrote to Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath drawing his attention to the problems being faced by project proponents as a result of the delay in grant of clearances by the MoEF.
“All the project proponents are facing a lot of difficulties owing to delay in grant of environment and forest clearances by the MoEF,” said the letter written by D.S. Rawat, Secretary General of the apex industry body.
“About a month ago, the Ministry had sought clarification from the EC regarding on-going clearance processes under different statutes, however, the matter is still pending with the EC,” said Rawat, adding that many of the ASSOCHAM members were affected by the delay in grant of clearances.
A project seeking environmental clearance has to undergo appraisal by the respective sectoral Expert Appraisal Committee. Based on the EAC recommendations, the MoEF decides on grant of environmental clearance.
In case of projects requiring forest clearance, the application is considered by the Forest Advisory Committee. The MoEF decides on grant of forest clearance based on the recommendations of the FAC.
Project proposals seeking wildlife clearance are considered by the National Board of Wildlife. Based on the recommendations of the NBW, the MoEF decides on grant of wildlife clearance.
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based public interest research and advocacy organization, the current system of green clearances adopted by the MoEF is not working and needs to be streamlined. The organization has been pushing for consolidation of all the clearances, which includes environment, forest, wildlife and coastal, on the ground that the fragmentation not only add to delays but also leads to poor decision making.