No ‘fixed cost’ on projects in protected areas, eco-sensitive zones for impact mitigation: NBWL
The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has decided not to impose a “fixed cost” on projects falling inside protected areas and eco-sensitive zones for impact mitigation, saying mitigation measures and associated costs will be prescribed while recommending project proposals.
In August, the Standing Committee of the NBWL had recommended that two percent of the proportionate cost of projects falling inside protected areas and eco-sensitive zones may be imposed on user agencies for impact mitigation measures. “This amount should be spent on mitigation measures within the same protected area,” it had said.
The standing committee, chaired by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, took up the issue again in its 65th meeting on September 24.
The panel decided that measures to mitigate impacts of projects in protected areas and eco-sensitive zones should be part of project proposals.
“The committee further decided that instead of imposing a fixed cost, mitigation measures and costs associated with such measures will be prescribed while recommending project proposals,” read the minutes of the meeting issued on October 8.
The Environment Ministry will issue an advisory to all States and Union territories in this regard.
The committee was informed that the Ministry is of the view that instead of imposing a uniform cost on all projects, it would be more appropriate if mitigation measures are suggested by chief wild life wardens for each project.
Secretary, Environment Ministry, RP Gupta observed that the cost imposed on user agencies is often not based on the impact of the activities to be undertaken under the project.
“Project proposals forwarded by State/UT governments should be accompanied by mitigation measures suggested by chief wild life wardens. If a study needs to be done by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) regarding the mitigation measures, the project proposals should be recommended to the ministry along with the result of such study,” he said.
He suggested that the standing committee should examine the reasonability of the proposed mitigation measures and should not recommend any project without mitigation measures.
Gupta said that if project proposals are received for consideration of the standing committee along with the mitigation measures and the cost associated with them, monitoring of the conditions imposed would be ensured and the funds so received would not be diverted for any other purpose.
Director General of Forests and Special Secretary Subhash Chandra said the WII has given recommendations regarding mitigation measures and there may also be norms prescribed by state and UT governments in this regard.
Member, NBWL, HS Singh also pointed out that sometimes the cost of proposed mitigation measures might be too high for small projects and suggested that guidelines may be issued in this regard.
Gupta, however, said it would be difficult to prescribe guidelines on mitigation measures since such measures would vary from one project to another.