Four Member Panel Set Up to Decide on Environment Regulator

Government today constituted a four-member ministerial panel to decide on how to go ahead on a Supreme Court order on setting up of an environmental regulator.

Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar are the members of the ministerial panel which will propose the structure of the regulator to be set up for appraising projects, enforcing environmental conditions and imposing penalty on polluters.

"A regulator for the environment and forest department is proposed to be set up. The Cabinet today approved setting up of a four-member committee of ministers to suggest the structure of the regulator and look into other measures," Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said after the meeting.

The Supreme Court had on January 6 directed the central government to appoint a national regulator under section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 for appraising projects, enforcing environmental conditions and impose penalty on polluters.

The Union Cabinet which discussed the matter in its July 9 meeting had decided that the issue would need an in-depth analysis by the new government including examining the feasibility of setting up the statutory regulator.

When asked about the government's decision to constitute the ministerial panel, sources in the Environment Ministry said that "there have been several green issues pending before the court and the government has to respond to those matters".

The sources also said a conference of state environment ministers would also be convened to discuss green issues facing them.

In its order, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the clearances under the Forest Act would be granted by the Environment Ministry but the regulator will see the implementation of the Forest Policy of 1998.

The apex court has also said that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 would now be dealt directly by the National Regulator for every project.

While directing the appointment of the national regulator, the bench said it has become necessary as the present system for EIA under the central government was deficient.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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