Change in environmental impact assessment process can’t be sustained: NGT

New system as per the 2018 notification would render the EIA futile: plea 

Updated - December 25, 2022 11:09 am IST

Published - December 25, 2022 12:16 am IST - New Delhi 

National Green Tribunal office in Delhi.

National Green Tribunal office in Delhi.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in an order said that a 2018 notification by the Union government giving powers to the local bodies for appraisal of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for some classes of construction projects will result in “diluting” the existing mechanism and “cannot thus be sustained”. 

The green court said that an existing stay on the notification will continue till any further step is taken in the matter. “Thus, there will be no prejudice if such stay continues till any further step is taken in the matter after an expert study and conscious decision, as per law,” the NGT said in an order dated Friday. 

The notification in question was issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on November 14, 2018, modifying the EIA regime in respect of construction projects with built up area between 20,000 sqm and 50,000 sqm and industrial sheds, educational institutions, hospitals and hostels for educational institutions between 20,000 sq metre and 1,50,000 sq metre.

‘Better expertise’

As per the notification, EIA appraisal for these projects would be done by local bodies such as municipalities, development authorities, district panchayats instead of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs). 

The SEIAAs is considered to have better expertise with such matters and a petition filed at the NGT argued that the new system as per the 2018 notification would render the EIA futile. 

“Tested on the touch stone of statutory scheme under EP (Environment Protection) Act and the principles of ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Precautionary’ principle to be enforced by this Tribunal... we are satisfied that the impugned notification will result in diluting the existing mechanism for Impact Assessment by SEIAA and cannot thus be sustained,” the order read. 

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