Govt to fast track green nod for infra projects
The Centre plans to further fast track environment, forest and wildlife clearances processes for large projects as it looks to restart investment cycle in the infrastructure sector that has the potential to prop up the economy post-demonetisation.
Top sources in the government said the Centre is mulling a single-point public hearing process involving gram sabhas for granting all statutory green clearances to projects. Also one platform would be provided for giving all three clearances.
Once implemented, this could squeeze the time required to get the green nod for projects. Organising separate gram sabha meetings for giving environment, forest and wildlife clearances is a time consuming process that often delays projects from few a months to a few years. Faster clearance could also unlock investments worth Rs 4-5 lakh crore that are struck due to delays in getting statutory clearances. Most of these projects are in power, steel oil and gas and road sectors.
“The group of secretaries on energy and environment, set up by the PM, has favoured further restructuring of the single window system for giving environment, forest and wildlife clearances. It has said this could be achieved by including a unified process of public hearing for infra projects. The environment ministry will work out the details and come up with the revamped green nod process that gives clearances within weeks,” said a government official privy to the development.
The Modi government has claimed that through various initiatives it has brought down the time needed for green nod for a project from 600 days to 190 days now. Through further changes in procedures, the government is aiming to bring down the time taken to get environment and forestry clearance to a mere 60 days.
As part of its initiatives to streamline the clearance processes and facilitate public and private investment, the Centre has already operationalised a single window online system for submission and tracking of proposals for environment, forest and wildlife clearances.
Besides fast-tracking the processes for green cleara­n­ce proposals, the online inte­rface is also facilitating management of effective monitoring. This means that an investor can track its proposal at all stages of clearance both at the central and state level. The new changes wo­uld also be incorporated in the online interface to enable investors track developments in the public hearing process.
The plan is also put all green clearances – environment, wildlife and forest –under a unified body in the government so that duplication could be avoided and processes could be fast tracked. The online portal is a step in this direction.
Also, the government has also started the process to give both environmental and forest clearances simultaneously to industries, which adhere to all the existing green norms. The earlier practice of first giving environment clearance before moving on to the forest clearance proposals used to delay the projects.
Subhash Narayan