Mechanism to check compliance of norms by quarries

State Environment Impact Assessment Authority’s alleged failure has created situations conducive for quarry owners to violate environment clearance conditions.  

Faced with complaints about violation of safeguards by quarries that have been granted environmental clearance, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) is gearing up to introduce a monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the clearance norms.

A meeting of the SEIAA held here on August 3 had decided to empower panchayat-level Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) with the mandate to report non-compliance of clearance conditions. The authority chaired by K.P. Joy resolved to constitute a panel of experts to assist the SEIAA in post-clearance monitoring.

Considering a petition filed by lawyer and environmental activist Harish Vasudevan, the meeting observed that the SEIAA had no machinery for post-clearance monitoring or scientific staff for site inspections to verify complaints.

Mr. Vasudevan alleged that the SEIAA had miserably failed in post-clearance monitoring. This, he said, had created conditions conducive for project proponents to violate the conditions at will.

Apart from mining and quarrying, industrial projects, major housing and construction projects, and removal of earth are among the activities that require clearance from the State-level authority.

Expert panel says no

In April, the SEIAA had sought the help of the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) to investigate the alleged violation of clearance conditions by a quarry at Perumkadavila.

The SEAC, a body constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to assist the SEIAA, however, maintained that post-clearance monitoring did not come under its mandate.

In view of the stand adopted by the SEAC, the SEIAA meeting authorised the chairman to propose an expert panel comprising geologists, architects, environmental scientists, and sectoral experts to monitor post clearance compliance, in association with BMCs.

Government order

A government order issued in June 2013 had empowered BMCs to monitor the state of the environment and report violations of environmental laws and regulations.

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board has worked out an arrangement with the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) to impart training to panchayat members in biodiversity management after the elections to local bodies later this year. “The training programme can be tweaked to include EIA as a module,” said KSBB chairman Oommen V. Oommen.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 3:48:29 PM |

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