Boon or bane? The Indian government’s plan to expedite green clearances has received mixed reviews from environmentalists | Photo: Hindustan Times

Indian govt pushes for faster green clearances

India’s environment ministry has proposed certain changes to expedite green clearances, a move that has not gone down too well with experts and activists. Among the changes proposed in a draft are the implementation of an online system, and decentralisation and standardisation of the approval process.

Environmentalists, however, believe this draft defeats the purpose of having an approvals process, while some believe these changes will bring new projects under green scrutiny for the first time.

India announces plans to cut cooling by up to 40% by 2038

The Indian government announced an ambitious plan to cut down on the country’s demand for cooling by 25-40% by 2038. This move, announced by Minister of State (MoS), Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Babul Supriyo, is in line with the government’s India Cooling Action Plan that was launched in March 2019 and mentions actions such as refrigerant transition and enhancing energy efficiency to help reduce demand.  

Vedanta’s Jharkhand steel plant gets nod despite forest encroachment

India’s environment ministry gave forest clearance for a proposed Vedanta steel plant in Jharkhand, despite allegations of encroachment by the state forest department. The ministry regularised 174 hectares of encroached forest land in Bokaro district.

There are several cases that remain pending in the high court and district court against ESL, which constructed the plant on the encroached land before Vedanta took over the company in 2018. While the official statement from the ministry called the regularisation a ‘resolution involving a reconciliatory view, not a compromise’, an official, who spoke to Down To Earth, on condition of anonymity, said, “Had this been about any other encroachment, things would have been very different.”

India issues draft notification on how to handle its battery waste

A draft notification for battery waste management has been issued by India’s environment ministry. The notification includes regulations for all Schedule-1 batteries that have been split into two categories — primary cells or non-rechargeable batteries (alkaline, aluminium-air, zinc chloride batteries) and secondary cells or chargeable batteries (Lithium-air, Lithium-ion polymer batteries).

The proposed draft included several suggestions such as a battery cannot be sold if it contains more than 0.0005% (5 ppm) of mercury by weight or if a portable battery contains more than 0.002% of cadmium. Used batteries must also be collected by the manufacturer, importer, assembler, and re-conditioner from consumers and dealers by setting up collection centres, as per the draft.