Ministry launches manual to streamline reportsMinistry of Forests and Environment has come up with a new manual for environmental impact assessment (EIA) in order to streamline existing regulatory and review processes and guide developers to minimise negative impacts on the ecosystem while maximising development benefits.
Ministry of Forests and Environment has come up with a new manual for environmental impact assessment (EIA) in order to streamline existing regulatory and review processes and guide developers to minimise negative impacts on the ecosystem while maximising development benefits.
The ministry launched the manual as it was under tremendous pressure from different quarters—from hydropower developers to the Energy Ministry—to streamline the regulatory and review processes. According to the Ministry, if the project developer follows the new manual launched by the Ministry, their EIA reports will be approved within 40 to 45 days. “The manual includes globally accepted standard practices and sets the specific timeline to finish the review process,” said Sindhu Prasad Dhungana, joint secretary at the Ministry.
Earlier, the Ministry used to take months to approve the EIA report submitted by the developer of a hydropower project, delaying the construction of the project.
The ministry received technical support by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector wing of the World Bank Group to create the manual. The IFC’s support to the Ministry of Forests and Environment is part of a larger effort in Nepal to improve the environmental and social standards of the hydropower sector.
The programme is supported by the governments of Australian and Japan and was carried out in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
Following an extensive gap analysis, stakeholder engagement and review of international best practices, the manual emphasises the importance of identifying and engaging a range of stakeholders, conducting baseline studies, and enabling better prediction of project impacts, among others, according to the IFC.
“Nepal’s efforts to develop more hydropower projects to meet the growing energy needs of the country must go hand-in-hand with doing more to avoid, mitigate, and better manage environmental and social risks,” said Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Minister of Forests and Environment. “This manual provides the guidance that hydropower proponents and developers need to better identify and manage environmental and social risks and impacts.”
Energy continues to take precedence as an important sector for the Government of Nepal with an ambitious target to harness 10,000 MW by 2030. Hydropower is the dominant source of power in the country. Sustainable hydropower development is the key to the long-term success of Nepal.
“We are pleased to have been part of this technical collaboration with the Ministry of Forests and Environment. We will work together to develop hydropower projects sustainably and provide capacity to the government and the private sector to use the manual,” said Wendy Werner, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.