EIA not mandatory for crushers

- PRAGATI SHAHI, Kathmandu
Environment Protection Act-1997 made it mandatory for projects to get EIA clearance from Environment Ministry

May 7, 2016-Despite objection from environmentalists, the government has decided to allow the mining of stone, gravel, sand and boulders from riverbeds, conservation areas and national parks without carrying out the environment impact assessment (EIA).

The Ministry of Population and Environment has amended the Environment Protection Regulations-1997 to allow crusher and mining industries to extract stones, boulders, sand, gravel, aggregates and mud from riverside for development works without considering the environment impact.

The new regulation published in the Nepal Gazette on Monday states that the crusher and mining industries have the flexibility to conduct their operations on the basis of Initial Environmental Examination (IIE) only, a much weaker compliance that does not require a detailed study of socio-environment impacts by the development activity.

The crusher and mining industries will also have access to national parks, wildlife reserves, wetlands and riversides in conservation areas for the extraction of the construction materials on the basis of the IEE only. The Environment Protection Act endorsed in 1997 had made it mandatory for development projects to get EIA clearance from the Environment Ministry and the IEE from the line ministries. 

“The district development committees now have the authority to allow the development projects to run on the basis of the IEE only, which is unfortunate,” said Toran Sharma, an environmentalist with the Nepal Environmental and Scientific Support Service.

In the name of development, the government is ignoring environment that is already under threat from haphazard development plans and proposals, he added. “It doesn’t mean that we should not extract minerals and natural resources, but the decision should not be taken at the cost of environment and the people dependent on its services,” said Sharma.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been in favour of avoiding the EIA. He recently directed the authorities to take necessary measures to allow crusher and mining industries to operate and supply adequate construction materials without hurdles. The PM’s major concern was delayed development works due to an inadequate supply of construction materials as the country undertakes its post-earthquake rebuilding.

Published: 07-05-2016 08:33

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