Matters concerned with Environment

Monday, May 21, 2012

The high court stays compulsory consultant accreditation for EIA

High Court relief for environment engineers | Deccan Chronicle
The high court has stayed an official memorandum by the Ministry of Environment and Forests which made it mandatory for environment consultants to obtain accreditation with the National Accreditation Board of Education and Training, Quality Council of India (QCI).

This comes as a major relief for such engineers, who conduct environment impact assessments (EIA) and prepare such reports to obtain prior environment clearance of projects from regulatory authorities. An environmental impact assessment is an assessment of the possible positive or negative impact that a proposed project may have on the environment, together consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects.

Experts in the field of environment engineering, who prepared the report argued before the court that such mandatory scheme is illegal and beyond the law. In line with the National Environment Policy, the MoEF had issued Environment Impact Notification, (EIA Notification) in 2006, imposing certain restrictions and prohibitions on new projects or activities. It also mandated that all industrial activities and projects that are listed under the notification must get prior environment clearance.

“As the preparation of EIA Report is necessary for submission of application for clearance, the project proponents generally engage the services of Environment Consultants. However, the official memorandum which is challenged before the court restricted the area of consultancy to the accredited sectors and notified that the EIA reports prepared by non-accredited consultants would not be considered by the Ministry,” states petitioner.

They further state that after the scheme was made compulsory, the consultants were not only precluded from preparing the report and making representations before the appraisal committees but also had to await their turn for consideration of their application. They often have to wait for over a year considering the long queue of applicants and the fact that QCI does not possess the required manpower or the infrastructure.

Justice S. Abdul Nazeer while staying the memorandum also issued notices to Ministry of Environment and Forests and state government’s department of ecology and environment.

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