The Ministry of Environment and Forests has reconstituted the Expert Appraisal Committee for environmental appraisal of River Valley and Hydro Electric Projects in terms of the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has issued an order on September 5th, 2013, which stated that the ten-member reconstituted Committee would be headed by former Coal Secretary Alok Perti.
The Committee, in accordance with the set terms of reference, would scrutinize proposals relating to RV and HEPs and prescribe TORs for undertaking detailed EIA studies, scrutinize EIA reports for RV and HEPs and Environmental Management Plans prepared and submitted by project proponents/ developers, recommend clearance or rejection of RV and HEPs from environmental angle and suggest and prescribe adequate safeguard measures for mitigating the adverse environmental impacts in respect of projects recommended for approval.
The appraisal of a proposal is required to be completed in a single meeting, the MoEF order said, adding that in the event the Committee seeks additional information for considering the proposal and the project proponent cannot furnish the required information during the meeting, the appraisal may be deferred to subsequent dates based on the request and preparedness of the proponent.
The Committee would provide its recommendations under three mutually exclusive categories – recommended, deferred and rejected. In case of recommendation for rejection as well as revision and modification, comprehensive reasons need to be given.
Several environmental activists and NGOs have expressed reservations with regard to the composition of the reconstituted EAC. They claim that the Committee would not be able to take independent decisions since the members are either from the government or government organizations or academic institutions funded by the government. Also, some of the members of the Committee including its Chairman do not have any experience in dealing with environment and river related issues.