Hyderabad: State governments have been given more powers to issue environmental clearances for their own hydel power, irrigation, mines and township projects by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change.
For medium-sized irrigation projects, power projects under 50 MW capacity, and mining over less than 100 hectares, states need not apply to the Centre to get environmental clearances, but can decide on these permissions itself, a notification issued by the Union ministry said. This will come into force from February 16, 2018.
The Central government has established an Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) in every state. But the states have limited powers in giving clearances to projects within the state and have to send the proposals to the Union ministry. State governments complain that the proposals are kept pending with the Union ministry for months together. When this happens in the case of mining activities, for example, the state government is not able to earn royalties.
5,000 mining proposals of AP pending
There are 5,000 proposals for mining projects pending from Andhra Pradesh and if the permissions come through, the state will earn Rs 1,000 crore in royalties.
At present, state bodies can give environmental clearance for non coal mine leases of below 50 hectares.
The area has now been increased to 100 hectares. For coal mines, the area has increased from 100 hectares to 150 hectares.
State bodies are currently empowered to give environmental clearances for irrigation projects of 10,000 hectares of cultivable command area. Now that has increased to 50,000 hectares, which is the size of all medium irrigation projects.
Hydel power projects of upto 50 MW can now be cleared by the states. Townships and area development projects of up to 1.5 lakh square metres or 50 hectares can get environmental clearance from the state