Oil cos seek review of eco clearance norms

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai, Jul 17 | Updated: Jul 18 2008, 07:00am hrs
After the power companies, its the turn of oil companies to make a strong argument in favour of amendments to the existing environment clearance guidelines.

In their recent presentation to the petroleum ministry, IOC, BPCL, HPCL, BRPL, MRPL and NRL have said existing guidelines should be eased out in a serious bid to achieve the timely completion of various projects.

These companies have suggested that the terms of reference (ToR) and the methodology for the environment impact assessment (EIA) study should be standardised for different categories of industry and projects.

Sources told FE that the ministry of environment and forests, on a priority basis, should revise cumbersome procedures. The industries should be allowed to conduct EIA studies as per the standard ToR instead of the applicant submitting a draft ToR to the expert appraisal committee (EAC) for approval.

According to oil PSUs, public hearings should be exempted for projects relating to quality improvement of finished products and projects not increasing stipulated pollution load.

In addition, if the public hearing has been conducted for other projects located in the same premises of the industry during the last five years, the project should be exempted from a public hearing.

Prior environmental clearance should be waived off for expansion and modernisation projects costing less than Rs 100 crore and new projects costing less than Rs 200 crore. The duration for environmental clearance should be reduced from the current level of 10-12 months.

Further, the retail outlets and isolated storage locations should be exempted from the purview of the statutory authorities on explosives. The MoEF and the petroleum ministry should also clarify whether or not prior environmental clearance for cross-country pipelines not passing through ecologically sensitive areas is required.

Submission of an environmental clearance (EC) compliance report should be necessary every year till the completion of the project, as against the half yearly procedure being followed currently.