Environment Clearances in India: 2014-2020

This series was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center

Certain categories of large projects in India require environment clearances (ECs) from the government. This map shows the location of 2,053 projects out of a total of 2,115 projects that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) granted Environment Clearances (ECs) to between July 2014 and March 2020. Of these, 278 are within and immediately around Protected Areas (PA).

Human activity is legally limited within Protected Areas (PAs) in India i.e. areas that enjoy a higher degree of protection to preserve their biodiversity (flora, fauna, ecosystems, etc). National parks, wildlife sanctuaries and conservation reserves are all examples of PAs. It is up to the ministry to allow projects in such areas. Our map features such PAs across India and highlights overlaps.

India’s four biodiversity hotspots - Himalayas, Western Ghats, Indo-Burma and Sundaland - also feature on the map. These are recognised as being among the Earth’s 36 most biologically rich regions.

What is an EC: An Environment Clearance is an approval required before an organisation can start any infrastructure, mining, processing or manufacturing undertaking that may be potentially detrimental to the environment. The clearance is granted either by the Centre or the states depending on the type of project it is. In addition to an EC, some projects may require wildlife and forest clearances.

How to use the map: Use the filters alongside the map to discover which projects have been approved in each state, as per year in which approval was granted, type of project and distance from nearby PAs.

Sources: We collected primary data from the Parivesh portal maintained by the MoEFCC. The 672 PAs were mapped based on information available on the UN-supported Protected Planet website. The 4 biodiversity hotspots present in India were collected from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, hosted on ArcGIS Hub.

About the data

We combed through data of 2,115 projects of which we were able to map 2,053 projects. We were unable to plot 62 projects for which neither the location coordinates nor the tehsil information was available in the Parivesh dataset.

Of the 2,053 projects, location coordinates were used to map 1,256 projects. An additional 797 projects were mapped as per the tehsil information provided, since the given location coordinates for these projects were either unavailable or noticeably inaccurate (675) or showed up in a neighbouring state (122), and not the state that information entered in the Parivesh database mentioned.

Note: The Parivesh website does not show data for years before 2014. All efforts have been made to collect and map the data accurately. The primary data from Parivesh is riddled with errors, as our investigation found. Each project has been manually copied from the website and there could be inaccuracies.

10 projects had a range of coordinates and appear as rectangles on the map. We checked manually and found that these are road projects and decided to leave them as is, while other projects appear as points.

Kindly let us know if you see an incorrectly placed data point. Please include the Proposal Name as given in the pop-up box to help us identify the project.
You can reach us at: respond@indiaspend.org


Reporting for this project was done between the second half of 2019 and early 2020. IndiaSpend travelled across the country for four months, reporting from Uttar Pradesh to Karnataka, as a part of a year-long investigation on how some of India’s infrastructure projects are imperilling the environment.

Our ground reports will be added to the map and as and when they are published at IndiaSpend.com

Snapshots from our reporting

*Images above are under copyright and cannot be used without permission

About Us

Tish Sanghera and Disha Shetty reported on the series. You can find them tweeting @TishSanghera and @dishashetty20.

Individual contributor Pankhuri Kumar built the map and helped create the website.

Samar Halarnkar and Madhur Singh helped conceptualize and shape the series, along with Marisha Karwa, who is also the series editor. She tweets @MarishaThakur.

**We hired additional help to manually enter data