Published on 06/01/2015
May kindly like to refer to the office memorandum F.NO. 22-76/2014-IA-III dated 7-10-2014 issued by your Ministry. The Ministry has provided that the preliminary notification as issued under the Land acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Act 2013 shall be considered as the appropriate document to establish the status of land acquisition for consideration of a case for environmental clearance. The said O.M. also provides that in case the land is being acquired through private negotiations then a credible document to establish the intent of the land owners to sell the land for the proposed project shall be sufficient.
In this connection I would beg to submit that the preliminary notification under the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 requires considerable preliminary inputs which require considerable time and efforts after the identification of the proposed site and hence if an E.C. is considered after the preliminary notification it would mean considerable inputs of cost and time by the project proponents between identification of the site and eligibility of their proposals for grant of Environmental Clearance. This appears to be against the spirit of the E.I.A. notification of 2006.
The entire procedure of Environmental Clearance as spelt out in the notification no. 1533 of 14-09-2006 bases itself on an Environmental Impact Assessment of alternative technologies and sites, with the Government of India reserving its rights to reject the Environment Clearance at any site not found suitable from the Environmental angle. Under these circumstances any investments on the proposals as related to the site without a proper clearance may be wasteful and non productive if a clearance on the site is refused. The E.I.A. notification also specifically provides under Para 6,that the application for E.C. has to be made after the identification of the prospective site (S) and interests to discourage investments before E.C.
You would like to appreciate Sir, that the preliminary notification under the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 may take about 2 years to issue after a site is identified by the project proponents.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013, also provides for a notification for commencement of consultation and the Social Impact Assessment Study and determination of Public Purpose to precede the preliminary notification. This initial notification under section 4(1 & 2) of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 is done after determining the area and nature of the proposed acquisition (Identification of prospective sites) and prescribes the Terms of Reference for the Social Impact Assessment Study. This procedure preceding the preliminary notification involves preparation of Social Impact Assessment Study Report, Public hearing for SIA, publication of SIA, Appraisal of SIA and examination of proposal for land acquisition and SIA report by the Government. Throughout this process, the project proponent is still not aware if his proposals on the project site would get an Environment Clearance or be refused. If the clearance is refused at this stage all the above activities involving private and public efforts goes waste.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 has also provided that the E.I.A. should be carried out simultaneously with the SIA and not be contingent upon the completion of report SIA (Section 4(4) ). The procedures laid down in OM No. F.No. 22-76/2014-IA-III dated 07-10-2014, in accepting the Social Impact Assessment before the preliminary notification under section 11 LARR Act 2013 and the Environment Impact Assessment after the preliminary notifications do not ensure that both Impact Assessments are done simultaneously.
In this connection, I would like to make the following suggestions for revising the O.M.No. F.NO. 22-76/2014-IA-III dated 7-10-2014 on documents to be considered as appropriate documents for consideration of an application for E.C. under the notification no. 1533 of 14-9- 2006 as amended:
- In case the land with reference to the project site is proposed to be acquired through Government intervention, copy of the notification regarding commencement of consultation and Social Impacts Assessment Study and the determination of Public Purpose issued under section 4 (1&2) of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 could be considered as an appropriate document instead of the Preliminary notification .
- In case a private company purchases land, equal to or more than such limits in rural areas or urban areas as may be prescribed by the appropriate State Government, through private negotiations with the owners and for which payment of rehabilitation and resettlement costs under the LARR Act of 2013 is required, then a copy of the letter as prescribed under section 46 of the LARR Act, notifying the Collector, of the intent to purchase, purpose for which such purchase is made and particulars of land to be purchased along with consent of at least 80% of sellers and affected persons.
- In case a private company purchases land and is not covered under the LARR Act of 2014 then a letter of intent from the Seller(s) could be regarded as appropriate.
- It could also be considered to be added that the E.I.A. study should be done simultaneously with the S.I.A. study and the E.C. granted for a project on the basis of aforesaid documents shall, unless modified, become invalid in case the identified land for the project site for which E.C. has been applied for turns out to be different from the land actually acquired for the proposal.
Should these suggestions demand a presentation to be made at the Ministry, it would be a pleasure to make the presentation before the designated Authorities. Looking forward to a consideration to the suggestions.