NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) under Narendra Modi has taken the task to streamline environment clearance processes for infrastructure projects in its hand. In a letter to key union ministries, the PMO has sought their views on changes required in the green clearances in order to make the clearance processes and mechanism consistent and transparent.
The letter by Santosh D Vaidya, Director, PMO dispatched on July 14 says that “it is essential to make the clearance processes and mechanism consistent and transparent”. The letter was sent to infrastructure ministries like railways, coal, power, road, highways and transport among others whose projects are still pending with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for clearances.
“In this regard, the ministry may undertake a quick review of difficulties being faced by undertakings/ companies in securing environmental, coastal, wildlife and forest clearances for their projects and may submit recommendations on specific changes required in the extant guidelines, procedures and mechanism for the above four clearances,” mentions the single-page letter.
The move comes even as the MoEF in the last two months has launched online filing and monitoring of project applications seeking environment and forest clearances. The systems were devised to ensure project clearance in a time bound manner and live tracking of files by the project proponents.
The NDA is already working to bring policy changes to fast track environmental clearances to the border roads and defence projects in the areas up to 100 kms from Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Once framed, the Defence Ministry will no longer need to approach environment ministry for any green clearances.
Thrust is on to clear three-key coal rail links which were pending for years for want of forest clearances. The rail links in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh once operational will meet majority of the country’s power demand.
UPA faced big trouble dealing the issue of environment versus development with industry blaming the environment ministry for hampering the growth by holding several important projects. During the fag end of the UPA II, Jayanthi Natarajan was removed and M Veerappa Moily was brought in to accord faster clearances and clear the backlog.