4 more centres to monitor environment projects

The government is all set to open four more regional centres at Chennai, Dehradun, Nagpur and Ranchi to strengthen monitoring of environmental projects in different sectors, including mining.

This would be in addition to the six already-existing regional offices at Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Shillong, Lucknow and Chandigarh.

This information was revealed in an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in the Supreme Court in response to the suggestions made by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC).

In another major development, the ministry said the mining projects of major minerals — even these spread over than 5 hectares in area — would in future require environmental clearance, and a notification in this regard would be issued soon.

The CEC had urged the apex court to direct the MoEF to take “immediate remedial measures” so that the stipulated conditions under environment impact assessment (EIA) did not remain only on paper and mining activity was carried out in the field in an environmentally sustainable manner.

In reply, the government said it is mandatory for the project proponent to submit half-yearly compliance reports in respect of the stipulated conditions of environmental clearance under the EIA notification of 2006. These compliance reports would be made public and also be put on the website of the regulatory authority.

The ministry, however, rejected a plea made by the CEC to set up a statutory authority to deal with mining projects with lease areas of 50 hectares and above.

The CEC had said it was desirable for the MoEF to consider setting up statutory authorities as mining leases of less than 50 hectares were granted environmental clearance by state environment impact assessment authorities.

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