The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), the regulatory body that grants Environmental Clearance (EC) for projects in Kerala, has expressed strong reservations about the move by the Union government to delegate the regulatory powers for mining of minor minerals to district-level authorities.
Discussing the draft notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, a meeting of the SEIAA here on October 16 observed that the proposed District EIA Authority (DEIAA) and District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC) would dilute the regulatory process. It noted that the State government had no role, even recommendatory, in the selection of members to the DEIAA and DEAC.
According to the draft notification, the Union government would constitute the four-member DEIAA chaired by the District Collector and the nine-member DEAC headed by the senior most Executive Engineer, Irrigation Department. Senior State government officials said the proposed DEAC would not be competent to deal with the expert appraisal of mining projects.
The notification issued on September 22 proposes amendments to the EIA notification, 2006 to bring the mining of minor minerals in an area less than or equal to five hectares within the ambit of DEIAA (B2 category).
The meeting chaired by K.P. Joy called for a special package for Kerala, in view of the special dispensation in the mining sector for short-term permits and the smaller extent of mining areas.
It also urged the Centre to grant the SEIAA supervisory jurisdiction over the district-level authority and designate it as the first appellate authority over the decisions of the DEIAA on environmental clearance.