Uniform consent procedure for Pollution Control Boards

The Government has decided to formulate uniform consent procedure to rationalise the consent procedure for implementation of pollution control laws in operating and establishing industrial projects in the country. This will also bring in more transparency and expeditious decision-making in the functioning of the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) of the Union Territories. For the implementation of water and air pollution control laws and management of hazardous wastes, SPCBs and PCCs grant consent to operate and establish industrial and other developmental activities in the States and Union Territories.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has issued a draft Notification under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 on the uniform consent procedure to be adopted by SPCBs and PCCs. This will bring in uniformity in the process of grant and renewal of the consent by the SPCBs and PCCs and will also provide a level playing field to the industries so as to regulate investment for sustainable development. The new proposals provide for combined application form for obtaining consent, which includes aspects of water pollution, air pollution and hazardous wastes management and handling. No authorisation shall be required in case of industries, which are not generating hazardous wastes as per the specified category, and a statement to the effect shall be sufficient for consideration of application.

The SPCBs and PCCs are now required to issue the consent order valid for a period against each category of industries which have been classified into red, orange and green categories for the purpose of consent management. For red categories, the consent validity period is two years and for orange and green categories, it will be three and five years respectively. This will not only save time for the industries, but also streamline the functioning of the Boards. Further, the SPCBs and PCCs are required to prepare a list of non-polluting industries in the category of small, cottage and tiny industry for grant of simplified consent, which will be valid for 10 years.

The draft Notification stipulates the minimal frequency of the visits to the industries by the officers of Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) for inspection of treatment plants, sampling of effluents etc. The polluting industries (red category) in the small-scale sector will be visited once in a year whereas large and medium industries shall be visited once in three months. The new rules provide for recovery of charges by the PCBs for collection of samples and its analysis. The Boards are required to specify the schedule of monitoring of the effluent and emission by the industries which will progressively build up their own capabilities to carry out monitoring. In case of small industries, services of laboratories recognised by the Central Government or SPCBs and PCCs may be utilised.

The State Industrial Development Corporations, who are promoting the industrial development and providing infra-structural facilities for the industrial areas, will be responsible for providing facilities for proper collection and disposal of treated effluent from the industrial estates and regular monitoring of the ambient air, noise and water. SPCBs and PCCs will suggest suitable locations, parameters and frequency of such monitoring. The applications for grant of consent shall be processed in two stages only for expeditious clearance. In case of new project proposals, the applications for consent to establish shall be cleared within 60 days.