Around 750 projects in various states are awaiting environmental clearance, with a maximum of 194 from Maharashtra, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said today. In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, he said that a total of 741 proposals are awaiting environmental clearance of which 194 are from Maharashtra. He further said that 95 proposals from Gujarat and 86 from Uttar Pradesh were awaiting environmental clearance. The Environment ministry has taken various steps to speed up the process of disposing the applications for environmental clearance. “They include dedicated online portal for effective monitoring, standardization of terms of reference for preparation of EIA reports and the Environment Management Plan, exemption from public consultations to certain projects, streamlining the procedure among others,” Vardhan said.
Replying to another question on forest based projects approved by the central government during the last three years, he said the proposals for forest clearances under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for diversion of forest lands, for non-forestry use are considered in the Ministry and is accorded in two stages. He said that they are stage I or in principle approval, which mandates conditions to be complied with for the issue of the subsequent stage II or final approval, which is the prior approval of the central government. The state or UT then issues an order for diversion of forest land on receipt of this prior approval of the central government, he said.
“A total of 2,196 proposals have been accorded stage I or in principle approval by the central government during the period 2014-2017,” he said. He added, “At present a total of 357 cases are pending for prior approval of the central government under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 including in Rajasthan.”