The Ministry of Environment on Monday introduced a new system of ranking the State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs), which have been delegated powers to consider and grant environmental clearance.
The ranking system, whose criteria include the time taken for giving clearance, has been introduced to encourage efficiency, transparency and accountability in the functioning of SEIAAs without diluting any regulatory safeguards, according to the ministry.
It is based on the provisions of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 and various guidelines issued by the ministry from time to time.
However, there is no negative marking proposed for not meeting the criteria for ranking, the ministry said in a statement.
There are seven criteria for ranking the SEIAA one of which is the average number of days for granting environmental clearance (EC).
The EIA Notification provides a time period of 105 days for granting EC which includes 60 days for appraisal and 45 days for decision by the regulatory authority.
“This criterion has been introduced to encourage the efficiency of SEIAAs in order to abide by the timeline given in EIA Notification.
“‘The SEIAAs which follow the timeline provided in the EIA Notification 2006 are granted 1 mark. Even 0.5 mark being given who will take a decision between 105 and 120 days.
“Marks are not reduced for SEIAAs which take decisions in more than 120 days but an extra mark is granted which take decisions between 80-105 days. There is no negative marking proposed for not meeting the criteria,” it said.
Other criteria include the percentage of disposal of the fresh term of reference (ToR) proposals awaiting for more than 30 days, percentage of disposal of fresh EC/ EC amendment proposals awaiting for more than 105 days and percentage of cases wherein more than one-time environment design solutions (EDS) were sought.
The average number of days taken for accepting the proposals for ToR/EC, complaints redressed by SEIAA, etc is also taken into account.
“The complaint redressal condition has been included to increase the accountability of the government agency to the common man. The complaints which are raised need to be addressed and not ignored. There is no negative marking proposed for not meeting the criteria,” it said.
The ministry had in February 2020 notified that all new projects or activities shall be referred to the experts’ appraisal committee (EAC) or SEAC (state expert appraisal committee) by the Regulatory Authority, as the case may be, within 30 days from the date of application, for recommending the specific ToR in addition to the Standard ToR, deemed necessary.
In case, the regulatory authority does not refer the matter to the EAC or SEAC, within 30 days of the date of application, sector-specific Standard ToR shall be issued, online, on the 30th day, by the Regulatory Authority.
“The Ministry has taken several initiatives for streamlining the EC process and reduce the undue time taken in the grant of clearances inter-alia complete online submission and processing of EC proposal, standard ToR for all expansion proposals, raising all queries at one go and avoiding multiple EDS/ADS, conducting fortnightly EAC meetings, etc,” it said. PTI