Green rules diluted to approve projects: NGO

September 22nd, 2011 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) An unprecedented number of infrastructure projects were cleared by the environment and forests ministry in the last five years and regulations were diluted for giving clearances, said the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Thursday.

A CSE study analysed environment and forest clearances granted by the ministry in the the 11th Five Year Plan.

The study looked at five key sectors - thermal power, hydropower, cement, iron and steel and mining - and found that in the period from 2007 till August 2011, 8,284 projects were granted forest clearance and 203,576 hectare of forest land was diverted for the purpose.

The pace of forest land diversion had doubled in the last five years.

A project is required to have forest clearances where there is diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose.

“Environmental regulations are seen as impeding growth, but where is the impediment? We are finding that despite all the browbeating, almost every project is getting cleared with frightening consistency, making a complete mockery of our regulatory systems,” said Sunita Narain, CSE director general.

The CSE appealed to the ministry to stop giving forest clearances to any new project until a transparent and effective system was put into place.

“Why is the ministry giving so many clearances? Why projects that are already cleared not being implemented first before more clearances can be given? Is this some kind of a new scam to take over the land and water of the people?” asked Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and the lead author of the study.

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