Today a lot of state governments promise companies investment opportunities free of ‘encumbrances’. Investors are assured of government assistance in securing requisite clearances for projects. Sample, for example, the following sentence from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between an international investor of a high profile project and the Orissa government. “The government of Orissa shall assist the Company in obtaining all clearances, including forest and environment clearance and approval of the State Pollution Control Board, and the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for opening up the iron ore mines, laying roads, constructing township etc,” it says.
Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is an important tool to inform decision makers, regulators and stakeholders, about the possible social and economic impacts of a proposed project. To be effective, it requires the active involvement of all concerned stakeholders.