The draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 proposed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) differs from the existing EIA Notification, 2006 in the following ways:
- Reduced time for public hearings: The 2020 draft proposes to reduce the notice period for public hearings from 30 days to 20 days.
- Exemption of projects: By classifying a number of projects into A, B1 and B2 categories, the 2020 draft exempts a host of projects from public scrutiny. Category B2 projects do not require mandatory Environmental Clearance (EC), unlike the Category A and B1 projects. Exempted projects under this category include offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration, hydroelectric projects up to 25 MW, irrigation projects, small and medium cement plants, and acids other than phosphoric or ammonia.
- Increased validity period of ECs: The 2020 draft increases the validity period of ECs for projects in non-forest areas from 5 years to 7 years, and for projects in forest areas from 5 years to 10 years.
- No public hearing for Category B2 projects: The 2020 draft does not require public hearings for Category B2 projects, which are exempt from EC.
- No public consultation for expansion or modernization of projects: The 2020 draft does not require public consultation for expansion or modernization of projects that have already obtained EC.