Ganga Waterway Environmental Clearance was Delayed 14 Times

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) have, for the past six years, been deliberating on whether the government’s World Bank-funded project–the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for National Waterway 1–requires environmental clearance. The project on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river systems, announced in July 2014, is scheduled to be completed by December 2023. Meanwhile, the NGT has postponed the matter of its environmental clearance 14 times, documents analyzed by IndiaSpend show.

Then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting the budget for the financial year 2014-15, announced the project and said it was intended to increase the capacity of vessels plying along the Ganga to at least 1,500 tonnes. The NGT and the MoEF&CC, the two critical institutions tasked with safeguarding the country’s environment, have since 2015 been debating whether the project requires, or warrants, environmental clearance.

To date, inland waterways are not included in the list of projects that require prior environmental clearance. But dredging, a critical activity for the developing inland waterways, needs an environmental clearance.

Experts recommend amending the EIA Notification 2006 to include inland waterways projects so that they require an environmental clearance, not only in the interest of sustaining the environment but also so that the waterways projects are environmentally and socially viable.

Source: Business Standard News

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