The Ministry of Environment and Forests has extended the validity of prior environmental clearances to projects or activities till March 31, 2021, or six months from the date of expiry of validity, whichever is later. The said extension will be applicable for the requirement of prior environmental clearance from the concerned regulatory authority mandatory for all new projects or activities listed in the Schedule to the said notification (vide number S.O.1533 (E), dated September 14, 2006), for their expansion and modernisation and/or change in product mix, as the case may be, before any construction work or preparation of land by the project management except for securing the land.
According to the Gazette notification issued by Geeta Menon, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, “in view of the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and subsequent lockdowns (total or partial) declared for its control, implementation of projects or activities in the field has been affected. The Ministry is in receipt of a number of requests for extension of the validity of prior environmental clearances beyond the maximum period.”
It stated, “As the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet come to an end, the matter has been examined in the Ministry and the concern is genuine keeping in view the fact that due to lockdowns (total or partial), continuation of activities in the field may be difficult. Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) and clause (v) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), read with sub-rule (4) of rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, the Central Government, after having dispensed with the requirement of notice under clause (a) of sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of the said rules in the public interest, hereby makes the following further amendments in the notification of Government of India, in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, vide number S.O. 1533 (E), dated the 14th September 2006.”
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this notification, the validity of prior environmental clearances granted under the provisions of this notification in respect of the projects or activities whose validity is expiring in the Financial Year 2020-2021 shall deemed to be extended till March 31, 2021, or six months from the date of expiry of validity, whichever is later. Such extension is subject to same terms and conditions of the prior environmental clearance in the respective clearance letters, to ensure uninterrupted operations of such projects or activities which have been stalled due to the outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns (total or partial) declared for its control,” stated the notification.
Commenting on the move, Yogin Mazumdar, Chairman of Bulk Drug Committee, IDMA said, “It is a welcome move and the industry appreciates the proactive measures taken by the ministry. The government has taken a cognizable step due to COVID-19 situation, which will also benefit the pharma industry.”