Centre to fast track regulatory clearances for energy projects

Realising that problems due to regulatory delays have hurt investments, the government has decided to set up a high-level board to ensure speedy ''one-time'' clearances to oil and natural gas projects, 70 of which had been affected so far.

The proposed project clearance board, that would be headed by the cabinet secretary, would be set up on the lines of the foreign investment promotion board (FIPB) which cleared FDI proposals in sensitive sectors.

The decision on setting up of the board had been taken at a meeting held by the prime minister's office to review progress on various oil and natural gas exploration projects under the new exploration licensing policy (NELP).

The board would have representatives from the ministries of home, defence, environment & forests, commerce, coal, department of space and other infrastructure and energy related ministries / departments, according to a PMO statement.

''In a meeting held in PMO to review the status of clearances of oil & gas blocks awarded under the NELP, it was decided that a project clearance board along the lines of FIPB, would be constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary for review and issue of one-time clearances, including security clearance,'' it said.

According to the statement, concessions in obtaining security related clearances from many agencies, constituted ''one of the biggest hurdles'' to speedy implementation of projects by project implementing agencies and private firms.