MEETING: Punjab CM calls on Jayanthi Natarajan

Author(s): City Air NewsPunjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal calls on Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan in her office at New Delhi on Wednesday. New Delhi, November 21, 2012: On the persuasion...

MEETING: Punjab CM calls on Jayanthi Natarajan

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal calls on Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan in her office at New Delhi on Wednesday.

New Delhi, November 21, 2012: On the persuasion of the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Union Minister of State Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan today agreed to shift the minor mineral projects of an area less than 5 hectares into the category B-2 instead of B-1, where no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) would be required.

A decision to this effect was taken by Natarajan in a meeting with the Chief Minister, who called on the Union Minister in her office here this afternoon to apprise her about the scarcity of construction material in the state due to stringent norms of EIA. Consequent upon this decision, excavation of brick earth by the brick kiln owners along with ordinary earth of an area less than 5 hectare would automatically fall in category B-2.

The Chief Minister appreciated the concern shown by Natarajan in resolving the long pending issue of environmental clearances which would go a long way in mitigating the hardships being faced by the people besides giving a boost to the development activity in the state, which was severely hit due to shortage of construction material.

Seeking few amendments to be incorporated in the EIA Notification, 2006 to ease out the situation, the Chief Minister suggested that the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) be authorized to grant the environmental clearances of the minor mineral projects irrespective of its area by amending the notification, 2006.

Badal also impressed upon the Union Minister that all the minor mineral projects comprising an area less than 5 hectare be considered in the B-2 category projects so that their environmental clearances could be obtained in minimum possible time schedule.

It may be recalled that at present such projects falls in category B-1 which takes minimum 210 days to seek environmental clearance as per EIA Notification 2006.

Likewise, Badal also sought an exemption from obtaining environmental clearance for minor mineral projects of ordinary earth and brick earth, wherein depth of mining does not exceed 6 feet. Besides, the general condition appended to the schedule of the EIA Notification, 2006 that if the mine is located within 10 Km from the interstate and international boundaries, such distance be reduced to 1 Km to enable the SEIAA to grant the environmental clearance at its end.

The Chief Minister apprised Natarajan that the stringent parameters of EIA notification had not only delayed the time bound projects of national importance like Chandigarh International Airport, roads, highways and other infrastructure works but also had adversely affected projects having a cascading impact on the economy of the state. 

Badal also informed the Union Minister that despite the fact that the State Government had already submitted final EIA/EMP reports of 95 minor mineral quarry projects with the Ministry of Environmental & Forests in the month of June, 2012 for the environmental clearance but the Ministry raised an objection in 89 quarries regarding approval of mining plans after four months, which led to acute scarcity of building material in the state. He requested the Union Minister to grant the requisite environmental clearances expeditiously after the State Government re-submitted the approved mining plans of these quarries by December 3, 2012.

Raising another issue for early clearance of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) pending with National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) of 17 towns namely Makhu, Dharmkot, Zira, Talwandi  Bhai and Ferozpur along River Satluj, Begowal, Dhilwan, Rayya and Sham Chaurasi along Beas and Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nabha, Banur, Sanaur, Bassi Pathana, Mandi Gobingarh and Sangrur on Ghaggar River under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) at a cost of Rs. 443.07 crore. He also sought technical appraisal and approval to be expedited by the Ministry for 5 Ghaggar towns viz. Rajpura, Patran, Khanauri, Lehragaga and Moonak at a cost of Rs. 116.67 crore. 

The chief minister also requested to release the next installment of Rs. 50.65 crore for the execution of NRCP and sought Ministry’s permission to start work with state share in anticipation of sanction.

It may be recalled that as many as 34 towns are to be covered under NRCP, of which the Ministry has sanctioned projects for 12 towns at a cost of Rs. 543.04. Of these funds only 138.64 crore has been released so far. 

Responding to the issues raised by the Chief Minister, Jayanthi Natarajan assured him that she would soon convene a meeting of senior officers of her Ministry to expedite the other pending issues regarding environmental clearances to the projects submitted by the state on the priority in order to further ease out the situation arisen out of scarcity of construction material. She also agreed to the proposal mooted by Badal for early clearance of the pending DPRs with NRCD and release of the next installment of Rs. 50.65 crore at the earliest.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by his Principal Secretary SK Sandhu, Principal Secretary Local Government Mr. Suresh Kumar and Secretary-cum-Director Industries and Commerce Vikas Pratap.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012