What is Environmental Clearance?
The procedure for obtaining Government approval for the installation and modification (amendment) of specific projects is known as environmental clearance. It is required for initiatives that may result in significant environmental pollution.
What is a Certificate of Environmental Clearance?
As we know that Environmental clearance is the process of obtaining government approval for initiatives that pollute the environment. Government has compiled a complete list of projects. These require environmental approval, such as mining, thermal power plants, and infrastructure.
The EIA Notification divides the projects into two groups:
Category A projects: These are approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change, whereas
Category B projects: These are approved by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority.
What is the procedure for Environmental Clearance?
The environmental clearance procedure is necessary for 39 different types of projects and includes factors such as project screening, scoping, and evaluation. The major goal is to assess the project's impact on the environment and people and try to mitigate or eliminate it.
The steps in the EC procedure are:
• After establishing compliance with existing siting criteria, the project proponent determines the location of the proposed plant. If the proposed project site does not comply with the siting guidelines, the proponent must find another location for the project.
• The project proponent is responsible for determining if the proposed activity or project requires EC. Then, the proponent conducts a study, either directly or through a consultant, if it is indicated in the notification schedule. If in case, the project fits into the B category, it is sent to the state government, for approval, where it is further divided into B1 and B2 projects.
• Following the completion of the EIA report, the investor contacts the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and the State Forest Department (if the location involves use of forestland). The SPCB reviews and analyses the quantity and quality of effluents projected to be generated by the proposed unit, as well as the investor's planned control measures' efficacy in meeting the stipulated requirements. The SPCB gives a consent to establish (commonly known as a NOC) if it is satisfied that the proposed unit will fulfil all of the statutory effluent and emissions requirements. The NOC is valid for 15 years.
• A public hearing is required as part of the environmental clearance process for some development projects. This creates a legal forum for residents of a given area to express their concerns directly to the project proponent and the government.Prior to the SPCB issuing a NOC, a public hearing process is completed.
The public hearing committee is chaired by the District Collector. The committee also comprises representatives from the district development authority, SPCB, the Department of Environment and Forest, Taluka and Gram Panchayat representatives, and elderly citizens from the district, among others.
• If the project falls under Project A, the project proponent files an application for environmental clearance to the MoEF; if it falls under Project B, the project proponent submits an application to the state government. The application form is then accompanied by the EIA, EMP, the information of public hearing, and State regulators' NOC.
• The documents presented by an investor are first reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which may also conduct site visits as needed, communicate with investors, on specific concerns as needed. Following this preliminary review, the plans are presented to specially formed expert committees, the makeup of which is stated in the EIA Notification.
When a project requires both environmental clearance and permission under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, clearance or rejection letters are required. Proposals for both are submitted to the ministry's involved departments.
After receiving all needed documents and data from the project authorities and holding public hearings (if necessary), the assessment and evaluation of the project from an environmental standpoint is finished within 90 days, and the ministry's decision is communicated within 30 days. For the purposes of starting construction or operation on the project, the clearance will be valid for five years.
Who needs Environmental Clearance?
According to Schedule 1 of the 2006 EIA Notification, 29 different types of projects require environmental approval.Furthermore, an industry colour code was established, which classified industries according to their environmental impact. The industries were categorised as red, orange, green, or white depending on their pollution potential rating. Only industries in the white category are exempt from obtaining environmental approval.
Here are a few examples of projects that require environmental approval:
1: Historic and religious sites
2: Monuments to archaeology
3: Natural areas
4: Hill retreats
5: Beach hotels
6: Coastal locations with mangroves, corals, and certain species' nesting grounds
8: Gulf regions
9: Reserves of biosphere
10: National parks and wildlife refuges
11: National marshes and lakes
12: Zones of Seismicity
13: Settlements of tribes
24: Scientific and geological areas of interest
25: Defence installations, particularly those with high security and pollution sensitivity
26: Borderlands (international)
How can you submit Environmental Clearance Proposals?
By registering on the MoEF websites, you can apply for environmental clearances online. Because it involves a few formalities, it is recommended that you use professional services to apply for an Environmental Clearance Certificate.
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