With a new minister in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the government has swung into action to fast-track green clearances for key infrastructure projects. The Cabinet Secretariat has sent to the Veerappa Moily-led ministry a list of 27 major infrastructure projects that are said to be stalled, awaiting environment and/or forest clearance.
The Cabinet Secretariat, it is learnt, has sought an ‘updation on priority’ on the list of 27 projects, which include Adani’s LNG terminal at Mundra, the Posco project in Orissa and the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant. The MoEF will soon be calling a meeting of concerned senior officials to review these projects and assess how they can be expedited. Most of these projects will also be taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI).
At the last meeting of the CCI, of the 14 projects considered, seven of them — or 50 per cent — were found held up due to forest clearances. Officials in the MoEF, however, point out that several of these are held up as statutory requirements or paperwork is often not furnished by the project proponent or by state governments or other stakeholder ministries.
The list of stalled projects are a case study in itself, showing how procedures and processes have stretched for several months, and even years in some cases. The four-laning project for expanding the NH 3 stretch between Gwalior and Shivpuri has been held up due to wildlife clearances as it passes through the Madhav National Park. While it first came up for consideration in the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) on March 20, 2013, it was held up pending a report on roads within sanctuaries. Even when the required report was submitted on September 4, this project could not be taken up as the tenure of the NBWL committee had ended and it is yet to be reconstituted.
Still other projects are held up as the MoEF requires inputs or reports from other stakeholder ministries or state governments. The IOCL project, which involves laying of 710 km long LPG pipeline from Paradip in Orissa to