‘Green nods given to projects that don’t meet criteria’

NEW DELHI: Highlighting irregularities in the process of granting green nods to many projects in the country, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has noted that almost a third of the nearly 200 developmental projects which got environmental clearances between 2011-2015 did not adhere to the procedure of seeking mandatory public consultation.

In its report, tabled in the Parliament on Friday, the CAG also said that the existing processes for grant of environmental clearance in the country suffered from various procedural deficiencies and there were delays at each stage of environment impact assessment (EIA) process.

It said the environmental clearances (EC) were granted to many projects during the period "without checking the compliance conditions" in the previous EC.

Referring to the mandatory public consultation process, the country's central auditor noted that due diligence in process for holding public consultation was not followed in seven sectors and the non-compliance was maximum in case of river valley and hydro electric projects.

"We (CAG) examined 216 projects in environment ministry granted Environment Clearance (EC) between 2011-July 2015, for evaluating the process of public consultation as stipulated in EIA Notification 2006. In 196 projects where public consultation was to be conducted, we found irregularities in 62 projects (32 %)," the CAG said. 

It said due diligence process as prescribed in the EIA notification for the conduct of public consultation was not followed in any of the seven sectors including coal mining, industry, non coal mining, construction, infrastructure, river valley and hydro electric projects and thermal power.

"The non-compliance was maximum in case of river valley and hydro electric projects," it said. The irregularities included delay in conduct of public hearing, missing advertisements, advertisement not in vernacular language, not taking views of public into account, among others.