New Delhi: To expedite construction of linear projects like highways in border states, the Environment Ministry has dropped the provision of "public hearing" before considering green clearances to such works.
The Ministry has also exempted from the requirement of going through a "scoping" stage of environment clearance process for new and expansion of border highway projects.
A notification in this regard has been issued after making necessary amendments to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.
"Some changes have been made to the environmental clearance process for highway and linear projects so that to fast track construction of such development projects in border states," a senior government official said.
As per the notification, "all linear projects such as highways, pipelines, etc, in border states" are exempted from public consultation.
This is being done as the environmental impact or forest diversion required is much less for linear projects like constructing new roads, widening of existing highways, power transmission lines, water supply lines and optic fibre cabling, among others.
Also, the process of public hearing was delaying environment and forest clearances. Many of the highway and road projects by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Border Roads Organization and state agencies are stuck due to want of green clearances.
To speed up construction of new highways in border states, the Ministry in the notification said that it has exempted such projects from "scoping".
At scoping stage of environment clearance process, the expert team tries to estimate which sections of society, environment and economy would be affected and come up with a comprehensive Terms Of Reference (TOR) addressing all relevant environmental concerns.