Biodiversity Assessment To Be Part Of Green Clearances

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With the country having nearly seven per cent of the world’s biodiversity, the Environment Ministry is planning to include biodiversity assessment as part of its process of issuing green clearance to infrastructure projects.

In the run-up to CoP 11 in Hyderabad on October 1-19, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Friday said the Ministry is planning to include this new aspect in the evaluation.

At present, the project proponents are required to provide assessment reports of the socio-economic aspect affecting the displaced people and impact on forest while applying for green clearance for any infrastructure project.

There have been persistent demands by environment groups to include biodiversity assessment in the process to know the loss caused to flora and fauna by these projects, she stated.

Explaining the importance of biodiversity, Natarjan said: “India is a recognised mega-diverse country rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge. With just 2.4 percent of land area, India accounts for nearly seven per cent of the recorded species even while supporting almost 18 per cent of human population as well as cattle population.”

“The forthcoming CoP-11 will provide the country with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our initiatives and strengths on biodiversity. India with a strong institutional, legal and policy framework, has the potential and capability to emerge as the world leader in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,” she said.

Natarajan also clarified on the occasion that the Kudankulam nuclear plant is absolutely safe and poses no danger to local residents and neither would the water in the region affect aquatic life. “I believe the seven-degree Centigrade water release, as prescribed in the clearance will not harm fish, marine life or people living around the plant,” Natarajan said. “However, if there are still concerns, we can order a review on temperature of effluent water release,” she added.

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