Expansion or modernisation projects that have been undertaken without obtaining prior environment clearance (EC) will be treated as violation and strict action will be taken by the government. A notification in this regard has been issued by the Environment Ministry to ensure such projects comply with the environmental laws at the earliest point of time rather than leaving them unregulated and unchecked. It also prescribes a procedure for appraisal of such cases of violation. "In case, the projects or activities requiring prior EC from the concerned Regulatory Authority are brought after starting the construction work, or have undertaken expansion, modernisation, without prior EC, these projects shall be treated as cases of violations," said the gazette notification issued on March 14. Projects or activities which are in violation as on date of the notification will only be eligible to apply for environmental clearance.
The project proponents can apply for EC only within six months from the date of the notification. In cases of violation, the notification said that the action will be taken against the project proponent by the respective state or State Pollution Control Board under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The cases of violation will be assessed by Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC) under the ministry and if the EAC finding is negative, then closure of the project will be recommended along with other actions under the law. Besides, no consent to operate or occupancy certificate will be issued till the project is granted the environmental clearance. In case, where the findings of the EAC are affirmative, such projects will be prescribed the appropriate 'Terms of Reference' for undertaking Environment Impact Assessment and preparation of Environment Management Plan, it added.
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