Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Ministry of Environment and Forests is to strengthen the foundations of ecological security

INVC,, New Delhi,, The primary role of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is to strengthen the foundations of ecological security in our country. High economic growth can be inclusive only if environment and development go hand-in-hand. Talking to the media here today, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, said, “The environmental and forestry clearances given by the Ministry are based on the Environment Protection Act, 1986, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Ministry is fully committed to ensuring that these laws are implemented fully in letter and in spirit. Despite the challenges, the Ministry is efficient in granting most environmental and forestry clearances, with a large majority of cases being cleared within the legally stipulated time available for approval. Most of the cases that take longer time involve complex, often legal and regulatory issues that are often outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry.” Shri Ramesh said “since May 29th 2009, there has been a determined effort to bring transparency and professionalism in the granting of environmental and forestry clearances. The status of all pending cases is now available with relevant details on the Ministry’s website. Environmental appraisal committees have been reconstituted to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. Regular monitoring of pending cases in crucial sectors is taking place with the ministries concerned. This is already having impact.” Regarding National Highway Projects he explained,” The Cabinet agreed to approve national highway projects to facilitate detailed project preparation after his Ministry’s suggestion with a clear condition that no on-site expenditure will be allowed to take place until all environmental and forestry clearances are obtained.” Nine major coalfields have been taken up for identification of prima facie “go/no go” areas for coal mining from the point of view of forestry clearances. They are: North Karanpura (Jharkhand), IB Valley (Orissa, Chattisgarh), Singaurali (MP, UP), Talcher (Orissa), West Bokaro (Jharkhand), Wardha (Maharashtra), Mandraigarh (Chattisgarh), Hasdeo (Chhattisgarh), and Shoagpur (Chhattisgarh, MP).The Minister said, “ The results of this preliminary analysis, done for the first time, have been submitted to the Prime Minister. Coal mining projects will get environmental approval based on the ultimate production capacity thereby obviating the need for repeated clearances when expansion takes place. For forestry clearance, the State government is also involved hence the two approvals cannot be combined and given at the same time, the Minister said.He further said, “The quality of the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) is often mediocre. Because of this, the Ministry has not hesitated in reviewing some cases even after granting environmental clearance, in light of new information, that was not available earlier, regarding adverse environmental impact of these projects.” Welcoming intervention of the Supreme Court the Minister said, “This has made the forestry clearance process (and also that of wildlife clearance under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972) very comprehensive and detailed. Had this not been the case, our valuable flora and fauna would have been even more endangered than it is today.The project-by-project clearance approach has meant that certain fragile regions have already reached the limits of their carrying capacity thus now necessitating the need for circumspection and the need for landscape-wide/basin-based approaches. For example, a moratorium has been placed on environmental approvals to new mining projects in Goa pending the finalization of the State Mining Policy; and a moratorium has been placed on environmental approvals to new port projects until a comprehensive cumulative environmental assessment is undertaken. Similarly, an expert panel has been constituted to demarcate eco-sensitive zones in the Western Ghats to ensure that new projects are regulated.” [caption id="attachment_10758" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="The Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge), Shri Jairam Ramesh briefing the media on EAI and Forest Clearances, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010. The Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Shri Vijai Sharma is also seen."]The Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge), Shri Jairam Ramesh briefing the media on EAI and Forest Clearances, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010. 	The Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Shri Vijai Sharma is also seen.[/caption]

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