The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has come out with new norms for environmental clearances even as it faces allegations of delaying project approvals.
The Ministry has decided that from July all final environment impact assessment reports — essential for any clearance — must be prepared only by agencies accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Education and Training and the Quality Council of India. Consultants must include an accreditation certificate with the report.
The Ministry has also decided to put a time limit on the validity of the terms of reference issued to undertake detailed assessment reports, effective from April.
Valid for two years
Since these terms are site-specific and dynamic and dependent on site features, land use and the nature of development, they will only be valid for two years, with a possible extension of one extra year.
The decisions — aimed at improving the transparency and speed of the assessment and clearance process — come at a time when the Ministry is reportedly facing flak from other ministries responsible for infrastructure development, who say that project approvals are getting delayed.