What is Environmental Clearance?
October 25, 2023

What is Environmental Clearance?

Environmental clearance is the process of gaining government approval for the installation and modification (amendment) of specified projects. It is essential for activities that have the potential to cause severe environmental pollution.

What exactly is an Environmental Clearance Certificate?

Environmental clearance, as we all know, is the process of receiving government consent for projects that pollute the environment. The administration has developed a comprehensive list of projects. Mining, thermal power plants, and infrastructure all require environmental approval.

The EIA Notification categorizes the projects into two categories:

Projects in Category A: These have to receive approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change.

Category B Projects need approval from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority.

What is the environmental clearance procedure?

The environmental clearance method, which includes project screening, scoping, and evaluation, is required for 39 different types of projects. The main purpose is to assess the project’s environmental and human impact and try to reduce or eliminate it.

The steps in the EC protocol are as follows:

  • The project proponent decides the location of the proposed facility after ensuring compliance with existing siting standards. If the proposed project site does not meet the siting standards, the proponent must relocate the project.
  • It is the project proponent’s responsibility to determine if the proposed activity or project requires EC. If it is stated in the notification schedule, the proponent then performs a study, either directly or through a consultant. If the project falls into the B category, it is forwarded to the state government for approval, where it is further classified as B1 and B2 projects.
  • Once the EIA report is completed, the investor contacts the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and the State Forest Department (if the location entails the use of forestland). The SPCB takes into account the quantity and caliber of waste water that the proposed unit will produce as well as how well the investor’s anticipated safety measures will perform in order to meet the standards. It grants consent to establish (often referred to as a NOC) if it is satisfied that the proposed unit meets all statutory effluent and emissions standards. The NOC is valid for a period of 15 years.
  • Some development projects require a public hearing as part of the environmental clearance procedure. This offers a legal venue in which people from a certain region can communicate their concerns directly to the project proponent and the government. A public hearing is held prior to the SPCB issuing a NOC. The District Collector is in charge of overseeing the public hearing committee. Leaders from the district development authority, SPCB, the Department of Environment and Forest, Taluka and Gramme Panchayat leaders, and elderly persons from the district are also on the committee.
  • If the project falls under Project A, the project proponent applies to the MoEF for environmental clearance; if it falls under Project B, the project proponent applies to the state government. The EIA, public hearing details, and the NOC from state authorities are then appended to the application form.

A multidisciplinary team from the Ministry of Environment and Forests initially reviews the investor’s documents. As needed, the staff may additionally visit the investor’s location and meet with them about specific concerns. After this first examination, the plans are presented to specially established expert committees, the composition of which is specified in the EIA Notification.

Clearance or rejection letters are required when a project requires both environmental clearance and permission under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980. Proposals for both are made to the relevant ministries.

After obtaining all relevant documents and data from project authorities and having public hearings (if necessary), the environmental assessment and evaluation of the project are completed within 90 days, and the ministry’s decision is conveyed within 30 days. The clearance will be valid for five years from the start of construction or operation on the project.

Who requires environmental clearance?

Schedule 1 of the 2006 EIA Notification lists 29 different types of projects that require environmental approval. In addition, an industry color code was developed, which classified industries based on their environmental impact. Depending on their pollution potential, the industries were classified as red, orange, green, or white. Only industries classified as white are exempt from getting environmental permission.

Also Read: Difference Between Effluent and Sewage Treatment Plants

Here are some places where you require environmental clearance before starting an industrial or residential project:

  • Historic and religious landmarks
  • Archaeologically important monuments
  • Natural habitats
  • Mountain retreats
  • Beach resorts
  • Coastal areas containing mangroves, corals, and nesting places for particular species
  • Estuaries.
  • Gulf Regions
  • Biosphere Reserves
  • National parks and wildlife refuges
  • National wetlands and lakes
  • Zones of Seismicity
  • Tribal settlements
  • Scientific and geological interests
  • Defense establishments, notably those with high security and sensitivity to pollution,
  • International Borderlands
  • Airports.

How do I submit proposal for environmental clearance?

You can apply for environmental clearances online by registering on the MoEF websites. It is recommended that you use professional services to apply for an Environmental Clearance Certificate because it entails a few processes.


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