NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is playing wish-fulfilling genie to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
In an effort to improve the business climate in the country, the PMO accepted a wish list of 60 proposals which would help streamline clearances for the industry from the CII and 30 of them have already been put into effect by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The whole process is being driven by top PMO officials, who have been coordinating with the industry and environment ministries by conducting regular meetings to keep themselves updated.
The list prepared by the CII included simplification of cumbersome processes and difficult mechanism for environment, forest, wildlife and coastal zone regulation clearances.
The MoEF, in an Action Taken Report (ATR) submitted to the Cabinet Secretariat on Friday, listed 30 of 60 decisions it has taken already, which include online submission of project proposals for clearances, delegating more powers to states, de-linking of forest and environment clearance for transmission lines, easing norms for highways projects and general approvals for strategic and border road projects. About 20 big-ticket projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore have already been cleared by the Environment Ministry in a record three months.
These projects were mainly from the coal and power sectors and were put on mission mode by the Modi Government. Green clearances were cited as the biggest impediment to development by the industry during the UPA regime and the NDA Government in the last four months has made sure that projects are not unnecessarily held up for want of green signals.
Key projects include include the Rs 45,345 crore Jindal Steel and Power Limited’s (JSPL) plant to enhance the steel-making capacity at its Raigarh plant in Chhattisgarh and the Rs 10,000 crore Manoharpur Open Cast Coal, a mine project of Odisha Power Generation Corp Ltd (OPGC).
Justifying the measures taken, a top MoEF official said the streamlining of processes was needed to avoid unnecessary delay, which lead to huge cost escalation and non-viability of projects. However, environment activists and legal experts feel that not all demands would be fulfilled as some go against Supreme Court rulings.
“In this era of technology, we do not even have a forest baseline database that can help a project proponent to know about the forest cover, protected areas, eco-sensitive zones and other things in the area where a project is being planned. The Forest Survey of India has now been tasked to come out with a GIS-based database,” the official said.