Chandigarh, October 28
From now on it will be mandatory for all industrial and developmental projects in the city to obtain environmental clearance.

In order to check environmental degradation caused by these projects, the union environment & forests ministry has passed an improvised rule. A regulatory body, comprising of senior Panjab University professors, ecologists and other experts will now be the sole local regulatory body to grant a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) for these projects.

According to subsection (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) read with paragraph 3 of the ministry’s notification dated September 14, 2006, two regulatory bodies - the Union Territory Environment Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) - have been formed.

The PU professors whose names have been shortlisted for these bodies have now received a letter from the UT administration notifying the same.

Dr Veer Singh, former dean (instruction), PU has been nominated as the chairperson of EIAA and Prof SK Sharma shall be its member. In addition to this, the director of the UT administration’s environment department would also be a member-secretary in this body.

To assist the authority, the central government in consultation with the UT administration, has also set up the Expert Appraisal Committee. Prof RK Kohli of the Centre for Environment & Vocational Studies, an accredited ecologist, will be chairperson of this body.

MS Johal, former professor at PU’s zoology department, Dr VK Rattan, UICET, PU, Prof Shakti Arora, Rajnish Wattas, Surinder Singh and Vivek Pandey have been selected as the members of the committee.

While the rule is applicable to all developmental projects there are certain sensitive areas that have been kept under the jurisdiction of the central government. A few among these are the ecosensitive zones, defence and border areas, areas close to atomic energy plants. However, the central government has retained the clearance power for special economic zones and coastal regulatory zones.

Earlier - in 1994 - also the central government had introduced a rule to check environment degradation by developmental projects in which the clearance used to be given by the Centre itself. However, the rule was ineffective due to certain ambiguities involved. There was a problem of ground inspection of the land in various states by one single central body, and hence there was a need to revise the rule.

As per the new notification, even the projects set up earlier in the city will have to obtain a renewed NOC. “The body’s aim is not only to help industries and safeguard their interests, but also keep a check on the environment degradation,” said Kohli.

“The inspection done by the bodies will be time bound to ensure efficiency. If the bodies do clear the proposal within 60 days, it will be assumed the clearance has been given,” he added.

Source: Neha Miglani Tribune News Service