Panel suggests speedy green approvals in mining, power sectors
New Delhi: A high-level panel constituted by the government to review various environment laws has recommended speedy green approvals in mining and power sectors as it feels that these sectors play a key role in national development.
In its report, the four-member panel, headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, has recommended creation of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) at central level and State Environment Management Authority (SEMA) at the state level as full time processing, clearance and monitoring agencies.
"In view of the key role played by the power sector, as also mining of various minerals in national development, NEMA may have a suitable cell, with specialisation, to speedily deal with environmental approvals in these sectors, with due regard to environmental considerations," says the report submitted to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
The panel has recommended identification and pre- specification of 'no go' forest areas, mainly comprising Protected Areas and forest cover over 70 per cent canopy.
"It should be made clear that no activity will be permitted which threatens the environment and biodiversity of these areas. This will exclude such areas from expressions of interest by user agencies (UA) thus saving valuable time and litigation," said the panel.
With 2.3 per cent of the world's land area, India accounts for 7.8 per cent of recorded species, it said.
It noted that India has 668 protected areas, 15 biosphere reserves and 26 Ramsar Convention sites. There are four biodiversity hotspots -- the Western and Eastern Himalayas, northeast India, parts of the Western Ghats and Nicobar.
In addition there are other areas of rich biological diversity along parts of the coastline and elsewhere.
The committee viewed that areas which are rich in biodiversity must be strongly protected and activity allowed in these areas only when there is an overwhelming advantage in terms of economic development.
"It is the committee's view that looking at the parameters indicated above a list of 'no go' areas, comprising 'protected areas', in addition to forest with over 70 per cent canopy, along with their geographical co-ordinates should be notified for public information," it said.
The panel, however, said that where there are considerations of national interest and issues relating to safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country, activities should be permitted in such areas subject to the prior and specific approval of the union Cabinet.