On the day that Veerappa Moily took over reins, the Environment Ministry eased environmental clearance norms for select industries, including brick kiln owners and river sand miners.
On December 24, the Ministry took a decision to exempt a slew of different types of industrial and mining projects from either providing environmental impact assessment reports or holding public hearings when they are approved by the state government.
Categorising these set of industrial activities as B2 type of activities under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification of 2006, the Ministry ordered that only providing a pre-feasibility report along with the application form would suffice for these to be assessed by the state level environmental authorities.
Under the new rules, river sand mining between 5 and 25 hectares would not require any EIA or public hearing. Usually miners get a slew of small sized mining rights in a cluster. In such cases if mines are less than one kilometre apart and collectively add up to more than 25 hectare then it would require an EIA and public hearing.
Digging of earth for brick kilns for larger areas has also been eased with the new notification now letting off miners digging out lease area up to 25 hectares from going through impact assessments and public hearing. In June the Ministry t permitted earth digging for brick kilns up to only 5 hectares to be exempt from these requirements.
Thermal power plants smaller than 5 MW too would be now listed in B2 category. Those between 5 MW and 500 MW would require clearance through the EIA route from the State governments.
Stand along cement plants that use railways are the primary mode of transportation of raw materials and finished product, chlor alkali plants of less than 300 tonnes per day capacity and new or expanded projects for leather production, both in notified industrial areas would also be exempt from the requirement of mandatory EIA and public hearings.