NEW DELHI: Learning from hurdles created due to delays in green clearances by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the new government has fixed a time limit to accord approvals to infrastructure projects at every level. This also includes a seven-day time limit for the Environment Minister. As per the new system, likely to be put in place by July and September for forest and environment clearances, respectively, each official, including those at the State level, will no longer be able to postpone a decision. It will be mandatory for them to either clear or reject a proposal.
“The whole purpose is to have a system in place where projects are cleared smoothly without compromising rules and regulations. It is also about fixing responsibility at every level in the government and holding people accountable for delays,” a top official in the government told Express. The mechanism has been devised jointly by the Environment Ministry and industry experts from the CII and FICCI.
According to officials, as of now an applicant comes to know of the project’s status only after it is cleared or rejected by the MoEF, but with the new mechanism they can track the progress of files on a regular basis. The new online system will have fixed timelines for each stage of clearance and an alert will automatically be generated if an official misses the deadline. The government is also planning to take punitive measures against officials missing their deadlines for clearances without any valid reason. But the penalty will be decided once the system gets operational.
The delay in project clearances became a major issue when Jayanthi Natarajan was the Environment Minister for she was said to be sitting on several big ticket projects for months for no valid reason. She was replaced by M Veerappa Moily in December last year.