Highlights

  • Union Environment Ministry amends environmental impact assessment rules
  • Highway within 100 km of LoC, border exempted from environmental clearance
  • Environmental activists say it could cause degradation in fragile ecology

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Highways within 100 km of LoC, borders won't need environmental clearance: Centre

Environmental activists had opposed the draft notification issued in April to exempt border projects from environmental clearance, saying it would cause environmental degradation in areas having a fragile ecology.

The Centre has notified amendments to environmental impact assessment rules, exempting highway projects related to defence and strategic importance within 100 km of the Line of Control or the border from the requirement of environmental clearance.

The notification issued by the Union Environment Ministry also exempts projects pertaining to the expansion of terminal buildings at airports (without an increase in the existing area of the airport) from seeking a green nod.

It also increases the exemption threshold of biomass-based power plants which also use auxiliary fuels such as coal, lignite or petroleum products up to 15 percent and fish handling capacity of ports and harbours which exclusively handle fish.

“Highway projects related to defence and strategic importance in border states are sensitive in nature and in many cases need to be executed on priority keeping in view strategic, defence, and security considerations.

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“And in this regard, the central government deems it necessary to exempt such projects from the requirement of environmental clearance in the border areas subject to specified standard operating procedure along with standard environmental safeguards for self-compliance by the executing agency,” the notification read.

All highway projects are exempted up to 100 km from the LOC or the border, it said.

Environmental activists had opposed the draft notification issued in April to exempt border projects from environmental clearance, saying it would cause environmental degradation in areas having a fragile ecology.

With the amended policy coming into force, certain stretches of the Char Dham project in Uttarakhand, and several other projects in the Himalayas and the northeast which fall within 100 km of the border or the LoC will not require the green nod.

The project involves the widening of 899 km of roads in ecologically sensitive areas of Uttarakhand to improve connectivity to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunothri, and Gangotri shrines.

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