MoEF nod for projects can be sought online

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 18 2012, 07:30am hrs
Applying for environment and forest clearances could become easier with the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) saying it would now entertain online applications. Allowing companies to submit project proposals online would also make the process for clearances transparent. Smaller projects that get screened, appraised and cleared by the states will be able to get clearances faster due to the new process.

We are thinking of making applications online as this

will reduce the burden on proponents and the officials

who appraise the projects, said a senior environment ministry official.

For now, only the initial steps till the terms of reference (TOR) stage would be done online. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra already have similar online application process. Recently, the Punjab Pollution Control Board rolled out an online consent management and monitoring system to enable applicants to fill the forms online after which the approval is processed electronically.

The move is in line with the ministry's strategy of fast-tracking the clearance process and is significant as all category-A developmental projects are given green clearance by the MoEF and category-B projects are considered by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority .

The category-A projects, which are in the industrial, thermal power, coal mining, non-coal mining, river valley, infrastructure and construction sectors, are appraised by MoEFs sector-specific expert appraisal committees.

The MoEF has, as of now, limited the online process till the TOR stage due to technical reasons. The final appraisal and approval process will be done in the same way as it requires large maps, satellite images and GPRS coordinates. The data required after the initial screening is usually huge, comprising images and maps especially of large construction projects. This can't be done as the proponents can't give such information online, the ministry official added.