After public litigation in the Supreme Court on Dehradun Limestone Mines in Uttaranchal, the consciousness arose on environmental protection in mining industry in India. Meanwhile Govt. of India brought out number of legislations like Forest (Conservation) Act, Environment (Protection) Act and Rules in eighties. But the submission of EIA/EMP to ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) was limited to large public sector projects only as per administrative order.
But with the liberalization of industrial policy and series of economic reforms initiated during past years, it became desirable to bring the major development projects within the purview of environmental impact assessment with a view to have sustainable development. Environmental clearance has now become statutory obligation for all medium and large projects and mines of major minerals having area more than five Hectares as per the notification under E.P. Act in May-1994.
Based on the directives given by the Department of Environment (DOE), every project report for a new mining venture is now required to contain a chapter on the “Environment Impact Statement” or “Environment Impact Assessment”. The project can not be undertaken unless all the implications of a possible environmental pollution and eco-degradation are appraised, and the proposal for environmental management of mining and ancillary operations is cleared by a high level inter-disciplinary Environmental Appraisal Committee. Without EIA clearance, the Planning commission does not clear funds for the public sector projects.
Minister of Environment and Forests, vide their Environmental Impact Assessment Notification -1994, issued on 27/1/1994, and amended on 4/5/1994, has made environmental clearance mandatory for all mining projects of major minerals above 5 Hectare, and of prospecting licenses above 500 Hectares. This Clearance is not required in case of a renewal of lease, if there is no increase in the originally sanctioned lease area, or the pollution load is not to exceed the existing one.
Mining and prospecting are treated as site specific projects, which requires site clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This site clearance is communicated within 30 days. Subsequently, a project clearance is required only for mining projects, for which EIA/EMP report, risk analysis report, NOC from State Pollution Control Board, comprehensive rehabilitation plan, if more than 1,000 people are displaced etc., require to be submitted to the Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) in the Ministry of Environment and Forests. IAA, in consultation with the expert committee for the Environmental Impact Assessment, examines the project, and grants clearance.