NEW DELHI: With its thrust on infrastructure development, the Modi government has on several occasions vowed to cut down time for granting environment clearances for projects.
However, the data of project clearances for the last five years show otherwise as the time taken for project appraisal by the environment ministry has increased gradually over past five years — from 83-220 days in 2015-16 to 176-336 days in 2019-2020.
In the run-up to the 2014 general elections in 2014, the BJP had targeted the UPA for making green clearances a major obstacle in country’s economic development.
After coming to power, one of the major reforms the BJP announced was cutting down duration for granting green clearances by streamlining procedures and relaxing environment norms.
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar has repeatedly said that the government will bring down the duration of green clearances from 640 days during UPA’s regime to 100 days.
However, the year-wise average time taken for grant of environment clearance (EC) for various sectors — mining, industrial projects infrastructure, thermal, river valley and hydro projects — since 2015-16 has been on a rise.
According to the ministry, as of 138 proposals are pending for clearance at central level across all sectors and while at the state level, 15,658 proposals are pending.
The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, has categorised the projects into two — Category ‘A’ and Category ‘B’ —based on their impact potential. Category ‘A’ projects are being appraised at the central level (ministry) while Category ‘B’ projects at the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs).