The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate
Change (MoEF&CC) has provided a six months window, as a one-time
opportunityto the units, which have not obtained prior environmental clearance
to apply for the same. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(MoEF&CC) and State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) have
been receiving proposals under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Notification, 2006 for grant of Terms of Reference (ToR) & Environmental
Clearance (EC) for projects which have started the work on site, expanded the
production beyond the limit of environmental clearance or changed the product
mix without obtaining prior EC.
The Ministry had issued Office Memoranda (OM) dated
12.12.2012 and 27.06.2013 and laid down a process for grant of EC to such cases
of violation. However, High Court of Jharkhand had passed an order dated the 28th
November, 2014, declaring some of the provisions of said OM dated 12.12.2012
void and had further held that action for alleged violation would be an
independent and separate activity. Subsequently the above two O.Ms were quashed
by the NGT vide order dated 7th July, 2015, mainly on the ground
that the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 provides for prior
environmental clearance, so no procedure can be laid through O.Ms for post
environment clearance. It was cited that O.M. cannot amend a notification,
which is a subordinate legislation.
In view of the above, the Ministry issued the
notification vide S.O 804 (E) dated 14.03.2017 to bring such projects and
activities in compliance with the environmental laws at the earliest point of
time, rather than leaving them unregulated and unchecked. As such units are
more polluting if they are not brought under the environment compliance regime,
but the process for such violators has to be stringent and punitive.
salient features of notification are as follows:
is a one-time opportunity for six months to apply for environmental clearance
to units which are in violation on date of the notification i.e. 14.03.2017.
States / SPCBs will take action under Section 19 of the E (P) Act, 1986 for
the cases of violation, irrespective of category, will be appraised as category
“A” projects by respective sector Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) at Central
level. So, violation cases can only be appraised at the level of Ministry.
EAC will first examine the proposal with an angle that the project or activity
is a permissible activity at the site on which it has come up. If it is not then
the recommendation of EAC will be for closure.
EAC will prescribe the specific ToR for assessment of ecological damage,
Remediation Plan and Natural and Community Resource Augmentation Plan (NCRAP)
in addition to general ToR required under EIA Notification, 2006 for
idea is to take away the economic benefit (if any) derived by the company due
to violation and pay for the remediation of damage caused due to violation.
plan shall be prepared as an independent chapter in the EIA report by the
accredited consultants. The collection and analysis of data for assessment of
ecological damage shall be done by an environmental laboratory duly notified
under E(P) Act, 1986 / accredited by NABL/CSIR.
EAC shall stipulate the implementation of EMP, comprising remediation plan and
NCRAP corresponding to the ecological damage assessed and economic benefit
derived due to violation as a specific condition of EC.
project proponent will also be required to submit a bank guarantee equivalent
to the amount of remediation plan and NCRAP with the SPCB.
consent to operate or occupancy certificate will be issued till the project is
granted the EC.