New Delhi: Environment Ministry has made it mandatory for state governments to conduct `carrying capacity` studies of river basins before any green clearances are granted for hydropower and river valley projects there.
The Ministry, through a circular, asked state governments to start such studies within three months and complete it within a two-year timeframe.
"The carrying capacity study is important to plan the optimal number of power projects which can be based in a river basin. The process may be initiated in the next three months and completed within a period of two years," the circular stated.
The Ministry, in its order issued four months back, had directed state governments to send the details of river basins for which the study was to be conducted. It had also sought confirmation within three months that the said study had been initiated.
However, it was not clear as to how many state governments have so far responded to the Ministry directive.
The Ministry had reviewed the issues which are normally considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) while examining cases for Environment and Forest Clearances, respectively, in respect of hydropower and river valley projects.
It took recourse to the above plan with a view to streamlining the processes and avoiding duplication of efforts by the two panels.
The ministry observed that since EAC had the requisite expertise on matters related to environmental flow, the same may be considered by EAC alone with the outcome to be shared with FAC.
For the bio-diversity component, the ministry has authorised Wildlife Institute of India and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, to provide a state- wise list of institutes with expertise in such matters.
Based on their inputs, the ministry would finalise a list of institutes which would be authorised to conduct the said study.