NAGPUR: The central government exemption from environmental clearance (EC) to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for stretches up to 100km in length and 40m in width, will have a major impact on environment in the country, but at the same time it will not be a cakewalk for projects in wildlife and forests areas.
Earlier, as the relaxation was for 30km in length and 20 metres in width, the NHAI required EC and had to go through the mandatory environmental impact assessment (EIA) by ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) through its notification of September 14, 2006, and amended on December 1, 2009.
“With the new norms, over 70% of our projects won’t need green approval. In Maharashtra, the NHAI is implementing 3,000km of road projects. Although we will need permission for tree felling and subsequently wildlife and forest clearances, we will not be require to submit EIAs,” said a senior NHAI official.
Kishor Rithe, member of standing committee, National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), the highest decision-making body on wildlife issues, says the move will have overall negative impact on environment in the entire country if project proponents do not take appropriate mitigation measures.
“The projects outside 10km of eco-sensitive zones, but within the wildlife corridors, won’t come to the NBWL for clearance. In such situation there is no EC required. I predict massive destruction as no one will ensure mitigation measures. If MoEF wants to give such relaxation, they should be very strict with mitigation measures,” said Rithe.