New Delhi: In its rebuttal to a report which said that the government will no longer publish information on the environmental impacts of projects on the Parivesh official website, the environment ministry said that the new portal “will be compliant with India’s transparency law and put in the public domain details of project proposals, and environment and forest clearances after it undergoes a revamp”.
According to Hindustan Times, which had also published the earlier report, the ministry responded that the Parivesh portal “will provide the minutes of meetings of expert appraisal and forest advisory committees, information on environment and forest clearances, coastal regulation zone proposal details and clearances, and minutes of the regional empowered committee”.
But it did not say whether draft and final environment impact assessments (EIAs), terms of reference (ToRs), pre-feasibility reports and public hearing documents about projects will be made public. Until the revamp, these documents were available publicly. They are not available at the moment, and it is unclear from the ministry’s response if they will be made available in the future.
The portal is undergoing a revamp to make it more user-friendly, faster, versatile and more efficient and effective, the environment ministry said.
“Needless to mention that the provisions of extant Acts, Rules & Regulations including those of RTI Act would have to be adhered to ensure that there is no violation of the provisions of any Act, Rule or Regulation,” the ministry responded to HT.
The newspaper’s previous report had said that details of projects that were sanctioned after September 5, 2022 have not been updated on the Parivesh portal regularly. To access information associated with environment, forest and wildlife clearances, interested persons would have to file an RTI application, the previous article had reported, quoting unnamed ministry officials. This was “taken to protect the interests of project developers” the official had said.
A Delhi-based EIA consultant told HT on the condition of anonymity that all the details may not be available freely. “Parivesh 2.0 is very different from Parivesh. In the enhanced version, we have to upload PAN card, Aadhar card, etc., to get verified and registered. In view of these details, some documents may not be available on the website,” the consultant said, according to the newspaper.