Scope, structure and processes of National Environment Assessment and Monitoring Authority – A draft report of the Ministry of Environment and Forests

Huge gaps in monitoring and enforcement of clearance conditions actually defeats the very purpose of grant of conditional environmental clearance, the report says.

This report by the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) for the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) deals with the scope, structure and processes of the proposed National Environment Assessment and Monitoring Authority (NEAMA). The findings and recommendations of the project are based on an analysis of various research and committee reports, a critical review of the implementation of EIA notification 2006, CRZ notification 1991 & CZM Notification 2010, and a review of the international practices.

The need for a body like NEAMA arises from the rapid industrial and infrastructural development in the last decade, which has exerted tremendous pressure on environment. The number and complexity of the projects being processed for environmental clearance has increased manifold whereas the capacity and resources available with MoEF and its agencies have remained limited. It is increasingly being felt that the clearance conditions have three key elements - objective & measurable, consistent & fair, and economically & technologically viable.

The review of the international practices reveals that most countries have independent, specialized institutions for conducting EIA, Coastal Zone Management and Post Clearance Monitoring. The report analyses the implementation of EIA 2006 notification and the proposed CZM notification 2010 in terms of policy, structure and process level issues. Key issues are -

  • The presence of MoEF in both the appraisal and approval processes leads to a perception of conflict of interest. 
  • Lack of permanence in the Expert Appraisal Committees leads to lack of continuity and institutional memory leading to poor knowledge management.
  • Current EIA and CRZ clearances rely predominantly on the data provided by the project proponent and the absence of authenticated and reliable data and lack of mechanisms to validate the data provided by the project proponent might lead to subjectivity, inconsistency and inferior quality of EIA reports.
  • Though the EIA notification requires several documents like ToRs (for every project), minutes of public hearing meetings (for each project), EIA report (with clearance conditions) and self-monitoring reports to be put in public domain (predominantly on the website), this has not been done for lack of institutional mechanisms. This leads to a perception of lack of transparency in the processes.
  • Several studies have pointed towards the poor monitoring of the clearance conditions. Huge gaps in monitoring and enforcement of clearance conditions actually defeats the very purpose of grant of conditional environmental clearance.

The report uses the following principles as loadstars for the design of NEAMA -

  • Independence of appraisal and approval process (to address conflict of interest issues).
  • Objectivity/predictability in the appraisal process through use of authenticated, reliable and valid scientific (real-time/time series) data procured through independent agencies, institutional memory and permanence in the Appraisal committees.
  • NEAMA to be scientific, economic and analytical tools driven.
  • Transparency in the process and outcomes of appraisal and monitoring by putting them in the public domain predominantly through the website.
  • The body should have a statutory foundation to ensure autonomy.

Download the report here -

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