Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Central order could clip GPSCB wings

The Goa State Pollution Control Board may find it difficult to issue show cause notices to erring units or mines, infrastructural projects including those in Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) areas as per an office order issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

State Environment Minister Aleixo Sequeira said the order was received by him on Saturday and the same had been sent to the legal department for its opinion. However, he cleared without elaborating “whatever actions GSPCB had initiated so far will be carried on”.

Sources said the order from the Central government may make it difficult for GSPCB to issue show-cause notices to erring mines that have obtained environmental clearances but failed to get forest clearances. When the question was put to the board’s Chairman Simon de Souza, he said they had met the environment minister regarding the order and the same was being studied by legal experts. We will know where we stand may be after two to three days, he stated.

The order, received by the board on Friday evening, was issued on September 30, 2009. It states that the monitoring cell in the impact assessment division was the nodal point for monitoring compliances of stipulated conditions while granting environmental clearance.

Sources said if the order is looked at closely, the State pollution control boards all over India will have little or no power to act against erring industries or projects. The order states the State boards have to bring to the notice of regional office any non-compliance of environmental clearance conditions and then the next course of action would be taken by the appropriate authorities.

The order has laid down procedures to be adopted for invoking legal action and issuance of direction under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection Act), 1986.

It states the issue of show-cause notices without proposing closure of units/projects will be subject to approval of additional secretary in-charge, IA Div and show-cause notices for closure will have to be approved by the secretary (environment and forests).

It makes a note: “Cases involving policy implications or other sensitivities would be brought to the notice of Ministry of Environment and Forests.”

The order has been issued with the approval of the minister of State (independent charge) for environment and forests.

Sources said copies of the order have been addressed to regional offices of MoEF, chairman of Central Pollution Control Board, State boards and others , but the same has not been made available to coastal zone management associations.

Herald October 13 2009, Panaji

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