UPSC Exam   »   Star-rating system of Environment Ministry

The Editorial Analysis- A Stellar Fallacy

A Stellar Fallacy- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges– Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

The Editorial Analysis- A Stellar Fallacy_40.1


A Stellar Fallacy- Context

  • Recently, the Union Environment Ministry is decided to implement a ‘star-rating system’. This has sparked controversy after one of its official communiqués became public.


ESG Funds: Environmental Social and Governance Funds


A Stellar Fallacy- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • About: The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is one of the cornerstones of ensuring that the ecological costs of infrastructure development are minimal.
  • Mechanism for Approval:
    • 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).
      • State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) is comprised of State officers and independent experts.
      • SEIAA projects make up the bulk of projects for approval including building and construction, small mining, small industrial projects, and are considered ‘less polluting’.
    • Projects that are even bigger or involve forest land- category A- must be cleared by an expert committee formed by the Centre.


A Stellar Fallacy: Star-rating system

  • About: Under Star-rating system, State-level environment committees that appraise industrial projects on their potential environmental risk would be incentivized with points for “transparency, efficiency and accountability”.
  • Aims. Star-rating system mechanism aims to facilitate the Government’s broader commitment to ‘Ease of Doing Business.
  • Criteria for Rating SEIAA: The proposed Star-rating system highlights seven criteria to rate SEIAAs on “transparency, efficiency and accountability”.
    • On a scale of 7, an SEIAA, for instance, gets more points for granting a clearance in less than 80 days than for within 105 days and no marks for more.
    • A score of seven or more would be rated ‘five star’.
  • Controversy: the star rating system proposed is to “rank” and “incentivise” States on how quickly and “efficiently” they can accord environmental clearances.
    • Many Environment Conservationists believe that States, in the quest for more stars, would logically vie for speedily clearing projects rather than ensure a thorough appraisal.
  • Environment Ministry’s Response: The Environment Ministry said that the intention is not to hasten clearances but accelerate the pace of decision-making.
    • Rather than files being sent back for every query, all objections must be compiled and addressed at one go.


A Stellar Fallacy- Way Forward

  • The Government must take steps to increase trust in the system and ensure that all States have competent experts who can conduct appraisals without fear or favour.


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