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Environment Minister for reducing clearance time

By Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI, JUNE 17. The Union Environment and Forests Minister, A. Raja, has asked officials to reduce the time taken in giving clearance to major projects by re-engineering the regulatory procedures. The directive came after the Minister's attention was drawn to the ``inexplicable'' delays in granting the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for projects.

Undue delays in granting EIA report was not only dissuading foreign investors but often led to funds earmarked for the projects lapsing. The clearance sometimes takes more than two years to come though the stipulated time is about 210 days, provided all information is made available and the necessary documents are in place.

Several prospective foreign investors have, in the past, complained to the State Government and the Central Government agencies about the delays and some of them are said to have decided against investing due to the delays and the cumbersome procedures involved in getting an environmental clearance. Within the Ministries, there have been complaints of the earmarked funds lapsing at the end of the year while the clearance was awaited.

The Govindarajan Committee report had also specified that environmental clearance took the longest time — sometime even more than 28 months — and caused the maximum delays in implementation of projects. Cumbersome procedure for clearance, disproportionate details required with applications, delays in the meetings and reopening of technical issues at every stage are some other causes of delay identified by the Govindarajan Committee report.

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