CSE says green clearances not working

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 23 2011, 09:56am hrs
India Inc may have complained about the slow pace at which green clearances are awarded but the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Thursday questioned this claim. It said that on the contrary, the environment ministry gave out an unprecedented number of clearances in the last five years.

The study found that 181 coal mines, 267 thermal power plants, 200 coal-based thermal power plants, 188 steel plants and 106 cement units were accorded clearance. Incidentally, the 11th Five-Year Plan projects a target of 50,000 mw of additional thermal power capacity, while the 12th Plan asks for 100,000 mw.

The centre analysed the environment and forest clearances granted by the Indian government in the period of the 11th Five Year Plan from 2007 till August 2011 in thermal power, hydropower, cement, iron and steel and mining sectors.

In the past five years, till August 2011, the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has granted environmental clearance to an astounding 2,10,000 mw of thermal power capacity - in other words, 60,000 mw more than what has been proposed till 2017. Worse, the capacity actually added is a mere 32,394 mw, the study said.

Environmental regulations are seen as impeding growth, but where is the impediment We are finding that despite all the browbeating, almost every project is getting cleared with frightening consistency, making a complete mockery of our regulatory systems, said Sunita Narain, CSE director general while releasing the study.

The centre analysed the environment and forest clearances granted by the government in the period of the 11th Five Year Plan from 2007 till August 2011 in thermal power, hydropower, cement, iron and steel and mining sectors. It noted that in one single year 2009 as much as 87,883.67 ha of forest land was granted clearance.

Narain added that the process of forest and environment clearances is not working as the ministry is giving too many clearances and no forest assessment is being done before granting the green nods.

Further, of the 22,264 cases granted forest clearance, only 12,225 were monitored (90 % of which were in only two states) and 5,091 of these were found to be non-compliant.