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Environmental Regulations that a Company needs to follow: Part I

By Arunesh Bhardwaj July 29, 2016


Environmental Regulations that a Company needs to follow

Introduction

“A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people”

---Franklin D. Roosevelt

Everything that surrounds us includes the environment in which we live in. As defined in Section 2(a) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 [EP Act]; environment includes water, air and land and the inter-relationship which exists among them and human beings, other living creatures, and property. When there is presence of pollutant in the Environment it causes Environment Pollution and degrades the quality of the environment.

To ensure that the environment of which we are a part is not degraded because of pollution, several laws were enacted after the Stockholm Conference. Before this conference, Indian Constitution under Article 48A directed the State to take steps in order to ensure that the environment is being protected and the condition of the environment is improving. In India, Ministry of Environment and Forest [MoEF] is the apex administrative body for:

  1. Regulating and ensuring environmental protection.
  2. Formulating the environmental policy framework for the country.
  3. Undertaking conservation and survey.
  4. Planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing implementation of environmental and forestry programmes.[i]

The Indian legislation has also enacted several legislations in order to ensure that the environment is being protected and the Environment Protection Act, 1986 is the umbrella legislation. The other legislations are pollution specific.

 

Authority

Section 3 of the EP Act gives power to the Central Government to take measures for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment. Under Section 3(3) it has the power to establish an authority or authorities for the purpose of giving directions and take necessary steps to ensure that the environment is being protected and for that the Central Government has established State Environment Impact Assessment Authority [SEIAA] which is responsible for giving clearance to the project or the activities at the State Level, while at the Central level it will be given by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. [Para 3 of the Notification] For the purpose of giving clearance to any project or activity, the SEIAA as well as the Central Government in the Ministry of Environment and Forest will constitute an Expert Appraisal Committee [EAC] on whose recommendation the clearance to the project will be given. [Para 4 of the Notification]

 

Clearance

In order to start an industry, it is required to take clearance from the concerned authorities established by virtue of this Act. The clearance has to be taken prior to the establishment of the industry. A notification about all the details related to Environment Clearance was published in the Gazette of India on September 14, 2006. This notification gives all the details that are required to be known to an industry in order to follow the environmental regulations.

 

Who Needs Clearance?

Para 2 of the Notification says that the following projects will be required to get clearance from the concerned authority before any construction work or preparation of land on the project or activity:

  1. All new projects listed in Schedule of the notification
  2. Expansion and modernization of existing projects or activities listed in the Schedule to this notification with addition of capacity beyond the limits specified for the concerned sector, that is, projects or activities which cross the threshold limits given in the Schedule, after expansion or modernization
  3. Any change in product - mix in an existing manufacturing unit included in Schedule beyond the specified range.

In the Schedule, the projects are divided into two categories. If the project or the activity falls under Category A of the Schedule, the clearance has to be taken from the Central Government and if the project or the activity falls under the Category B of the Schedule, then the clearance has to be taken from the SEIAA.

 

How to Apply? [Para 6 of the notification]

If the industry or the company falls within the ambit of the Schedule, then it needs to apply for prior environmental clearance to the concerned authorities. For the purpose of applying, the applicant has to write an application in accordance to the prescribed form which has been provided in the notification [Form 1]. If the Supplementary form [Appendix II] is required then it has to be attached along with the application form. Along with the application in the prescribed form, the applicant will also have to furnish

  1. A copy of pre-feasibility project report except in the case of construction projects.
  2. In case of construction project, a copy of the conceptual plan.

 

Stages in pre-clearance [Para 7 of the notification]

There are maximum four stages that are involved in pre clearance and they are:

  1. Screening
  2. Scoping
  3. Public Consultation
  4. Appraisal

The Expert Appraisal Committee at the Central level and the State EAC at the State level will screen, scope and appraise the projects. The composition of the EAC is given in Appendix VI of the notification and they will meet once a month. EAC and SEAC will be re-constituted after every three years. [Para 5 of the notification]

 

Screening [Para 7 (i) (I) of the notification]

The industries that need pre-clearance has been categorised in two categories in the Schedule. Screening is needed only for those projects or activities that are mentioned in the Group B of the schedule. The purpose of screening is to determine whether or not the project or activity for which pre-clearance has been sought requires any further environmental studies for preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] prior to the grant of environmental clearance. This scrutiny will depend on the nature and location of the project. In case the project required further environmental studies, it will be termed as category ‘B1’ in the EIA report and the rest will be termed as ‘B2’ and it won’t be requiring an EIA report.

 

Scoping [Para 7 (i) (II) of the notification]

Scoping is the process by which the EAC or SEAC, as the case may be, for category ‘A’ and ‘B1’ respectively determine detailed and comprehensive Terms of Reference [TOR] in which it addresses all the relevant environmental concerns related to that particular project or activity for which the prior environmental clearance has been sought. The terms of reference will be determined on the basis of the information furnished in the prescribed application or if required, a sub-group of EAC can also visit the site concerned.

The Terms of Reference (TOR) has to be conveyed to the applicant within sixty days of the receipt of the application. In case, the terms of reference has not been conveyed by the EAC then the TOR suggested by the applicant will be deemed as the final TOR approved by EIA.

Once approved, the TOR will be displayed on the MoEF website as well as on the concerned SEIAA website. In case, the application is rejected, the news about the same along with the reason of rejection will be sent to the applicant within sixty days of the receipt of the application.

 

The last two stages of pre clearance, validity and penalties has been discussed in the second part of the Blog.

 

End Notes:

[i] http://www.archive.india.gov.in/business/starting_business/environment_laws.php last visited on June 30, 2016.

Sources:

  1. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 available at http://envfor.nic.in/legis/env/env1.html last visited on June 30, 2016
  2. Notification dated September 14, 2016 available at http://envfor.nic.in/legis/eia/so1533.pdf last visited on June 30, 2016
  3. The Environment Protection Rules, 1986 available at http://www.moef.nic.in/sites/default/files/fellowships/THE%20ENVIRONMENT.pdf last visited on June 30, 2016
  4. Environmental Regulation available at http://www.archive.india.gov.in/business/starting_business/environment_laws.php last visited on June 30, 2016
  5. National Environment Policy, 2006 available at http://www.moef.gov.in/sites/default/files/introduction-nep2006e.pdf last visited on June 30, 2016.
  6. Pollution Standards available at http://dpcc.delhigovt.nic.in/down/standards.pdf last visited on June 30, 2016.

 

Image Credits: http://www.southernfriedscience.com/do-environmental-regulations-harm-the-economy/

Tags: Environmental Law , Company , Regulations , Environment Protection ACt , Screening , Scoping


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