Environmental Clearance Process for Townships and Area Development projects in India made more stringent. Amendment dated- 28-02-2014

Published on 31/03/2014

Amendment notification No. SO/562 (E) dated 26-02-2014 to the EIA notification no SO 1533, dated 14-09-2006 makes scoping essential, introducing additional processing time of 60 days.

Township and Area Development Projects-Scoping and EIA

The MoEF Government of India had introduced a system of prior Environmental Clearance through notification no SO 1533 dated 14-09-2006. The said notification had made it mandatory for Town ships and  Area Development projects with a built up area of more than 150000 sq. meters and/or a total area of more than 50 Hectares, (Category 8b of schedule) to avail a prior environment clearance before start of development activities. The said notification has classified the ‘Town ships and Area Development project ‘as Category B1’ meaning thereby that the project proposals submitted for appraisal have to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment Report as prescribed. The Government of India had, however, in the said notification no. SO 1533 dated 14-09-2006 simplified the procedure for such projects and provided within para 7 to the notification that such projects would not have to undergo the process of ‘scoping’. Scoping was defined to include prescribing additional Terms of References for the EIA study by the expert committee. The same provisions (of S.O. 1533 dated 14-09-2006) were retained by the MoEF, Government of India through the amendment no. SO 2559 (E) dated 22-08-2013 to para 7 of the notification dated 14-09-2006.

The Government of India through notification no. SO 562(E) dated 26-02-2014 has now withdrawn this simplification regarding scoping and has now amended this provision as a sequel to which all ‘Townships and Area Development Projects’ will have to additionally go through an initial presentation before the SEAC for fixing the additional Terms of reference and prepare the E.I.A. report only after the additional Terms of Reference have been communicated. This has introduced an additional time of 60 day to the appraisal process from the procedures prescribed earlier. It is however, also not explicit as to why scoping has been mentioned as exempted for category 8 ‘a’ projects which do not require submission of an E.I.A. report and hence no T.O.R. presentation. It is also not clear if it would also imply that category 8(a) projects may now not invite the optional inspection as provided in the notification.

The notified provisions

  1. The notification No. S.O.1533(E) dated 14-09-2006 under Para 7 (i) II Stage(2)-Scoping of had mentioned that ‘All projects and activities listed as category ‘B’ in item 8 of the schedule (Construction/Townships/Commercial Complexes/Housing) shall not require scoping and will be appraised on the basis of Form-I/Form-IA and the conceptual plan. (Importantly Area Development projects which are a separate class under category 8 (b) were not exempted from the provision of scoping. The intention of the MoEF in not mentioning ‘Area Development Projects’ here is not clear, in spite of the fact that in the same sentence it has mentioned that all activities listed as category ‘B’ in item 8 of the scheduled shall not require scoping.)
  2. The S.O. 2559(E) dated 22-08-2013 (an amendment to S.O. 1533 dated 14-09-2006 as above) had rephrased the para 7 of the notification of 14-09-2006 and reiterated that the following shall not require scoping-

“All projects and activities listed as Category ‘B’ in item 8 of the schedule (Construction or Township or Commercial complexes or Housing);”

No procedural charges have been made over the procedures specified in the notification dated 14-09-2006.

3. The provision as above has been subsequently amended and replaced by the amendment No. SO 562(E) dated 26-02-2014, the operative text of which prescribing exemption from scoping reads as follows:

“in the said notification, in paragraph 7, in subparagraph II, in item (i), in the first proviso, for item (i) the following item shall be substituted, namely:-

(i)                  All projects or activities listed under category ‘B’ against item 8 (a) of the schedule;”.

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