Syed Junaid Hashmi
Jammu Tawi, September 21: Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has directed Jammu and Kashmir government to frame modalities clearly delegating responsibility of monitoring the compliance to Environmental Committee (EC) letter and commitments made in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.
Union Ministry has further issued advisory to State Pollution control Boards (SPCBs) for periodical monitoring after grant of Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) to Project Proponents. It has further advised state governments to strengthen infrastructure and manpower of State Pollution control Boards (SPCBs) so that they properly monitor the Environmental Committee (EC) conditions of the projects running in their jurisdictions.
Union ministry gave these directions after finding out that there were no clear cut responsibilities assigned to State Pollution Control Boards under Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006 regarding post Environmental Clearance (EC) monitoring. Environmental Clearance (EC) is granted by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on the recommendations of EAC after scrutiny of the EIA report which includes public consultation and also various mitigation measures and commitments made by the PP.
Union ministry while granting environmental clearance to the Power projects marks copy to SPCBs and it is the SPCB which has to keep an eye on the environmental adherence of the project. It had not delegated the SPCB with responsibilities and powers for monitoring of EC conditions and hence compliance to various mitigation measures proposed by the PPs in the EIA/EC was not checked by SPCBs. Ministry stated that SPCB has very clear defined roles with regard to their regulatory functions, monitoring, enforcement and compliance under the Water Act and Air Act.
SPCB is not in a position to monitor the stipulations relating to forest, plantation, activities under ESR, health, etc. due to the reason that these stipulations do not fall under the mandate envisaged in the Water Act and the Air Act as well as delegations made under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. Union Ministry has further asked the SPCBs to introduce a system of surprise check by the SPCBs at premise of PPs to verify the third party testing of environmental parameters.
Ministry has issued advisory to the state government regarding implementation and monitoring of the action plan of critically polluted area at regular intervals. It has asked the state government to put in place the mechanism to ensure that the compliance reports are regularly and timely received and uploaded by PPs and the Ministry on their websites.
It has demanded that the state government must take expeditious measure to have requisite number of Scientists in place in the respective regional offices. It should evolve a system by delegating powers to ROs for taking action against the defaulting PPs. It should have a system in place where the reports of violation received from ROs are compiled and constantly monitored in coordination with ROs for ensuring that PPs comply with EC conditions and take action as per law.
It has asked the state government to frame modalities clearly delegating responsibility of monitoring the compliance to EC letter and commitments made in the EIA reports. It has further demanded that the state government should ask the SPCBs for periodical monitoring after grant of CTE and CTO to Project Proponents. It has also asked the state governments to strengthen the infrastructure and manpower of SPCBs so that they properly monitor project running in their jurisdictions.
SPCBs may consider adopting risk based approach to monitor the conditions stipulated in ECs of the project and devise schedule for percentage check of six-monthly compliance reports and environment statements, the ministry has demanded. It has asked the state government to consider
bringing suitable condition by mentioning the name and number of post/posts to be engaged by the proponent for implementation and monitoring of environmental parameters.
Union Ministry issued these directions after finding out that inspite of the conditions mentioned in the Environmental Clearance; the Project Proponents showed poor monitoring of environmental parameters. SPCB did not undertake environmental quality monitoring in Critically Polluted Areas due to non-finalization of the firms for the same.
Project Proponents were also not uploading half yearly compliance report on their website. There was wide gap between the sanctioned strength vis-a-vis men in position of scientists in all the Regional Offices. Regional Offices had not been delegated powers to take action against the defaulting Project Proponents. No penalty was imposed for violating conditions of Environmental Clearance in the last two years. State Pollution Control Boards had not been carrying out post Environmental Clearance monitoring due to lack of clear cut responsibility assigned to them under Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006.