Environment Ministry Star Rating System – Free PDF Download


  • In a move that could trigger a frantic race among the states at the cost of compromising on environmental protection, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has decided to incentivise them through a star-rating system, based on ‘efficiency and timelines in grant of environmental clearance’.

  • Under this scheme, State-level environment committees that appraise industrial projects on their potential environmental risk would be incentivised with points for “transparency, efficiency and accountability”.
  • The proposal focused on how quickly the State Environmental Impact Assessment Agencies give environmental clearances to proposed infrastructure projects.
  • This proposal faces stark criticism from environmentalists on the grounds that it contravenes basic principles of environmental regulation.
  • The Environment Ministry, on the other hand, has said that the intention is not to hasten clearances but accelerate the pace of decision-making.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • It is a process through which an environmental impact of a proposed development is evaluated. While undertaking Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the inter-related socio-economic, cultural, and human-health impacts are considered.
  • EIA is a tool used to assess the positive and negative environmental, economic, and social impacts of a project.
  • This is used to predict the environmental impacts of a project in the pre-planning stage itself so that decisions can be taken to reduce the adverse impacts.

Evolution & History of EIA

  • The birth of EIA is dated back to the 1970s. In 1969, The USA had brought its first National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) 1969.
  • The EIA was initially practised by developed nations but slowly it was also introduced in developing nations including India.
  • Columbia and the Philippines are the earliest examples of developing nations who introduced EIA in their policies. Columbia brought it in 1974 while the Philippines in 1978.
  • In 1989, EIA was adopted as the major development project by the World Bank.

State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA)

  • The SEIAAs are responsible for providing environmental clearance for a bulk of the infrastructure, developmental and industrial projects.
  • Their main purpose is to assess the impact of the proposed project on the environment and people, and to try and minimise this impact.

Infrastructure projects approval by SEIAAs

  • Prospective projects above a certain size and with a potential to significantly alter the natural environment must be first approved by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) comprising State officers and independent experts.
  • Projects that are even bigger or involve forest land — category A — must be cleared by an expert committee formed by the Centre.
  • SEIAA projects are category B and relatively smaller though they make up the bulk of projects(over 90% clearances) that are presented for approval.
  • ‘B’ category projects include the bulk of building and construction, small mining, and small industry projects and are considered to be ‘less polluting.’

Star Rating System scheme

  • The star rating system proposed is to “rank” and “incentivise” States on how “quickly” and “efficiently” they can accord environmental clearances.
  • It spells out seven criteria to rate SEIAAs on “transparency, efficiency and accountability”.

Parameters for the Rating System

  • An SEIAA will get 2 marks if it takes less than 80 days on average for granting clearance; 1 for less than 105 days; 0.5 for 105-120 days; and 0 for over 120 days.

Parameters are:

  • The average number of days taken by an SEIAA to accept proposals seeking either EC or Terms of Reference (ToR) for projects.
  • The number of complaints addressed by the Authority.
  • The percentage of cases for which site visits are carried out by either SEIAAs or State Expert Appraisal Committees (SEACs).
  • The percentage of cases in which the Authority seeks additional information from project proponents more than once.
  • The disposal percentage of proposals seeking fresh or amended ToRs that are older than 30 days.
  • The disposal percentage of proposals seeking fresh or amended EC that are older than 120 days.


  • Criticising the move, environmentalists warned that the state authorities, whose mandate is to ensure protection of the environment, will now “compete’’ to clear projects swiftly, to increase state rankings.
  • The task of the SEIAA is to undertake a ‘detailed scrutiny’ whereas this notification makes them rubber stamp authorities.

What is the environmental clearance process

  • The environmental clearance process is warranted for 39 types of projects listed in the Environmental Impact Assessment notification of 2006.
  • These include the mining of minerals, the building of airports and townships, and the installation of thermal power plants, to name a few.
  • The basic objective behind the environmental clearance is to ensure the least damage to the natural resources and incorporate suitable remedial measures right at the stage of project formulation.


Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone-depleting substances are used:

  1. In the production of plastic foams
  2. In the production of tubeless tyres
  3. In cleaning certain electronic components
  4. As pressurizing agents in aerosol cans

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4




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