By Accommodation Times News Service
The environment secretary reportedly clarified that for widening of national highways environment clearance is not required if the proposed length is less than 100 km and additional land acquisition involved is less than 40 meters. Moreover, the bigger relief is that environment clearance will be required only if both these conditions are exceeded simultaneously.
The environment and road ministry in a agreement to the proposals has decided to push the construction of linear highways projects in all the border states. The environment ministry has agreed to drop down the provision of the public hearing before considering the green clearances to such projects. According to them the process of hearing delays in environment and forest clearances causes great delays. Officials said that the linear projects like constructing roads, widening of existing highways, power transmission lines, water supply lines and optic fibre cabling the environmental impact or forest diversion required is much less.
Highlighting that such projects in strategic Border States should not be delayed or withheld because of cumbersome processes it was decided that there is a need to streamline clearances to avoid derailment of such works.
A government official said that for new linear projects the environment ministry may take up environmental appraisal “without insisting” on public hearing subject to suitable conditions to be prescribed by the green ministry. It was also agreed that for new highway projects in these states a standardized terms of reference (ToR) would be developed by roads and environment ministries by this weekend. This may be considered and approved by the environment appraisal committee (EAC) concerned in the next meeting.
The environment secretary reportedly clarified that for widening of national highways environment clearance is not required if the proposed length is less than 100 km and additional land acquisition involved is less than 40 meters. Moreover, the bigger relief is that environment clearance will be required only if both these conditions are exceeded simultaneously. This means NHAI or other highways owning agencies can take up construction without green clearance for over 100 km if the additional land acquisition involved does not cross 40 meter mark.
Similarly, for facilitating forest clearance for linear projects the environment ministry may delegate the power to regional empowered committees and regional offices irrespective of the proposed area. It was also agreed that considering the difficulties in locating non-forest or degraded forest areas in states where forest cover is over 50%, environment ministry would work out an alternative solution. The ministry would look into the concept of green credit and land bank to deal with such problems.