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Demand for making environment clearance data public
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, March 9 - RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury has alleged violation of the order issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the Central Information Commission (CIC) in regards to uploading the matters related to the grant of environment clearance (EC) to development or industrial projects on the official website. He has also sought intervention of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Assam, in this matter.

He urged steps to upload project related documents including the minutes of the meetings of SEIAA and SEAC, the environmental clearance letters, post-EC compliance report required to be submitted every six months in a standardised manner as soon as possible and not later than 30 days from the date of receipt of his letter.

In case of the failure of the SEIAA to upload the information, he warned that he would be compelled to take legal recourse against all the authorities concerned, including the SEIAA, Assam.

In a letter to the SEIAA, Choudhury said that it has been observed that the minutes of the meeting, project information and other details required for the purpose of appraisal and grant of Environmental Clearance (“EC”) in the State of Assam have not been uploaded on the official website which is a flagrant violation of the orders and notification issued by the CIC and the MoEFCC. The disclosure of such information is not only statutory requirements but essential and crucial steps to ensure transparency and accountability in institutions.

The CIC in its order issued on January 18, 2012, directed that the information such as copies of applications and related documents submitted by the project proponent while seeking prior EC, particularly the documents like Form 1 and Form 1A, where applicable, additional information submitted to the Expert Appraisal Committees (“EACs”) by the project proponent, reports/studies commissioned by the EACs from independent agencies/sub-committees and the post-EC compliance reports, should be made available on the official website.

The Commission directed that these documents would be uploaded on the website for all projects from April 1, 2012 onwards.

The MoEFCC in its order issued on March 20, 2012 directed the respective Member Secretaries of various EACs and SEIAAs to upload information / documents which would inter-alia include Form-I, Form-IA, pre-feasibility report, the draft terms of reference, environment impact assessment report, filled in questionnaire for environmental appraisal projects, public hearing proceedings, all the study reports undertaken at the instance of the EACs and any additional information submitted by the project proponent to the EACs on the website of MoEFCC / SEIAA with effect from April 1, 2012.

The notification issued by the MoEFCC on September 14, 2006 stated that the minutes of the EAC/SEAC have to be prepared within five working days of the meeting and uploaded on the website of the appropriate regulator along with the safeguards/conditions imposed on the projects. The details of rejection of an application and the reason for the rejection have to be included in the minutes, Choudhury said.

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