CHENNAI: In yet another significant move, the Centre has decided not to levy Corporate Environment Responsibility (CER) cost on firms anymore. The CER cost was introduced in 2018 for projects with a capital of more than Rs 100 crore. As per documents accessed by Express, the Union Environment Ministry on September 30 revoked the need to pay a certain percentage of project cost or expansion cost as CER as a prerequisite to grant environment clearance.
Instead, the ministry has directed that all the activities proposed by the project proponent or prescribed by the Expert Appraisal Committee or State Level Expert Appraisal Committee, as the case may be, shall be part of the Environment Management Plan.
Sharath Kumar Palleria, director of Impact Assessment, Union Environment Ministry, said, “The ministry had received several representations regarding the levy of CER.” “Henceforth, the Expert Appraisal Committee or State Level Expert Appraisal Committee shall deliberate on commitments made by the project proponent to address concerns raised during public consultation and would prescribe specific conditions, while recommending the proposal for granting prior environment clearance, instead of fund allocations under CER,” he said.
The activities proposed under CER are worked out based on the issues raised during public hearing, social need assessment etc. All these activities were treated as part of the project and monitored. “Now, by weakening CER, the local communities may be deprived of their rights,” an official in the Tamil Nadu State Environment Impact Assessment Authority said.
The CER was conceptualised to deal with pollution control and conservation. A greenfield project with Rs 100 crore investment will have to pay 2 per cent CER. A brownfield project of same cost will have to pay 1 per cent. The CER is not fixed, and varies depending on the capital investment. For instance, for a `10,000 crore project, it would be 0.125% to 0.25%.