Faster clearances of infra projects, Environment Ministry takes steps

NEW DELHI:  The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has sought to streamline approval procedures for infrastructure projects with exceptions through a multi-layer rapid disposal process, continuing its hotly contested "ease of doing business" motto.

The Ministry had proposed earlier in January that the State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) be ranked based on the speed at which they approved bids and granted environmental approval for projects.

The action was defended by claiming that it would not weaken any regulatory safeguards while "encouraging the efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the functioning of SEIAAs."

An announcement from the Ministry, titled Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, was released late on Wednesday night. It suggests the creation of an advisory committee, a regional empowered committee at each integrated regional office, and a screening committee at the state/Union Territory (UT) government level.

The Advisory Committee's role was limited to providing advice or making recommendations with regard to the grant of approval under applicable sections for proposals that were referred to it as well as any issues related to the conservation of forests that were referred to it by the Central government.

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