India EIA 2020 draft needs a revaluation

karun’s (wesustainabletextileforum) Blog

The Draft Environmental Assessment Impact (EIA) Notification, 2020 issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is attracting heavy criticism from environmentalists and several sections of civil society after it was put forward for public consideration and suggestion or objections by the ministry.

Environment impact assessment is a process under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which prevents industrial and infrastructural projects from being approved without proper oversight. This process ensures that every project should go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance. 

EIA covers projects such as mining of coal or other minerals, infrastructure development, thermal, nuclear and hydropower projects, real estate and other industrial projects. The projects are assessed based on their potential impact on the environment. Based on the assessments, they are granted or denied environmental clearance by a panel of experts. 

The government has put up for public consideration and comment the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020, which if put into force will replace the EIA Notification of 2006 for all future projects.

Few of the reasons why this law is problematic –

– It offers Post Facto clearance to projects

This means that even if a project has come up without environment safeguards or without getting environment clearances, it could carry out operation under the provision of the new draft EIA 2020.

– Public consultations have been removed from many categories of projects

It reduces the space available for public participation. The draft notification also shortens the time for the public to furnish responses on the project.

There is a list of the selected projects in the new draft that have been proposed to be exempted from public participation. Modernisation or irrigation projects, all building constructions and area development projects, expansion or widening of national highways, all projects concerning national defence and security, are part of the list.

The second way in which this proposal tries to curtail rights of the communities is by legalising projects that have already caused a great deal of harm and have been operating without approvals from the EIA.

– Fragile coasts and flood defender mangroves will opened up for exploitation

Fragile Coasts and flood defenders like mangroves and shores will be opened up to exploitation for port & industry development, affecting more than 20,000 aquatic fauna  

This draft is disastrous because we already have several projects that are running without EIA clearances. An example is the LG Polymer Plant in Vishakhapatnam, where the styrene gas leak happened on May 7. It was revealed that the plant had been running for over two decades without clearances. 

Oil India Limited’s oil wells in the Tinsukia district, Assam, only a few kilometres away from protected forests, went up in flames this month. Recent processes for expansion and modification apparently took place without fresh environmental clearance.

Send your suggestions to eia2020-moefcc@gov.in

Source: downtoearth, Indianexpress,

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