The main purpose of Environmental clearance is to assess the impact of the planned project on the environment and people through a detailed EIA report and to try to minimize the same with alternatives and preventive measures.

EIA and Environmental Clearance Process

Environmental Clearance

The environmental clearance process covers aspects of screening, scoping and evaluation of the upcoming project. Here is a quick guide to how the process works.

  • Initial assessment of location and compliance with laws.

Project proponent identifies the location of the proposed plant after ensuring compliance with existing siting guidelines. If the project site does not agree with the siting guideline, the proponent has to identify other alternative sites for the project.

  • The project proponent then assesses if the proposed project falls under the coverage of environmental clearance.

If yes, the proponent conducts an EIA study either directly or through a consultant. If the project falls in B category, the project goes to the state government for clearance which further categorizes into B1 and B2 projects. B2 projects do not require preparation of EIA reports.

  • Investor approaches the concerned departments.

After the EIA report is ready, the investor approaches the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and the State Forest Department (if the location involves the use of forestland). The SPCB evaluates and assesses the quantity and quality of effluents likely to be generated by the proposed unit as well as the effectiveness of the control measures to meet the prescribed standards.

If the SPCB is satisfied that the proposed unit will meet all the prescribed effluent and emissions standards, it issues consent to establish. This consent certificate is called No Objection Certificate (NOC), which is valid for 15 years.

  • Surveying the host population and involving their opinion in the report.

The public hearing is a mandatory step in the process of environmental clearance for certain developmental projects. This provides a legal space for people of an area to come face-to-face with the project proponent and the government and express their concerns.

  • Higher officials from departments interact with the public.

The process of public hearing is conducted prior to the issue of NOC from SPCB. The District Collector and other officials from the district development body, SPCB, Department of Environment and Forest, Taluka and Gram Panchayat representative, and senior citizen of the district, etc. are involved in this hearing process. The hearing committee hears the objections/suggestions from the public and after inserting certain clauses it is passed on to the next stage of approval (Ministry of Forest and Environment).

  • Submission of application for clearance.

The project proponent submits an application for environmental clearance with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) if it falls under Project A category or the state government if it falls under project B category. The application form is submitted with EIA report, EMP, details of the public hearing and NOC granted by the state regulators.

  • Environmental appraisal

The documents submitted by an investor are first scrutinized by a multi-disciplinary staff functioning in the MoEFCC who may also undertake site-visits wherever required, interact with the investors and hold consultations with experts on specific issues as and when necessary.

Environmental Appraisal Committees have been constituted for each sector such as River Valley, Industries, Mining, etc. and these committees meet regularly to appraise the proposals received in the Ministry. In case of certain very special/controversial projects, the committee may also decide to arrange for public hearings on those projects to ensure public participation in developmental decisions.

Once satisfied, the Appraisal Committees make their recommendations for approval or rejection of particular projects. The recommendations of the Committees are then processed in the MoEFCC for approval or rejection.

  • Issues of clearance or rejection letter.

When a project requires both environmental clearance as well as approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Proposals for both are required to be given simultaneously to the concerned divisions of the ministry.

The processing is done simultaneously for clearance/rejection. If the project does not involve diversion of forest land, the case is processed only for environmental clearance.