This is with reference to the draft EIA notification, 2020. We are deeply concerned that the proposed EIA is against policy on biosphere Hon Prime Minister mentioned in key note address at World Economic Forum plenary session at Davos, Switzerland, on 23rd Jan. 2018, stressing, ‘Vasudaiva Kudumbakam’ the concept Atharva Veda’s ‘Purusha Sukta’. The proposed EIA will speed up the destruction of India’s Environment irreversibly, and will make it easy for the corporates, land mafia and the multinational companies to rape our mother earth without any defense. It is totally Against Indian Wisdom on Mother Earth, which gives the most sustainable science in the world, which at least BJP government we thought will respect.
The concept of the earth in the Vedas especially Prithvi Sukta of Atharvaveda indicates the environmental consciousness and the understanding of the earth by Vedic seers that was far advanced than our time.
'Let What I dig from thee O Earth, rapidly spring and grow again, O Purifier, let me not pierce through the vitals of thy heart' -(Atharva Veda 12:35)
For them Earth was Vasudha containing all wealth, and is not for the different races of men alone but for all living things. (Atharvaveda). They advocate peace and harmony with nature. Our great rulers and polticians from Ashoka and Chanakya were kin towards protecting mother earth, which sustains life in the planet.
Indian culture has grown in the lap of Nature. Man, Nature relationship was at the centre of Vedic vision and it proclaim man’s duty to preserve environment - harmonious living with nature. Worship of nature - Sun, Moon, Fire, Earth, Air and Water was not merely primitive man’s response to the fear of the unknown but arose from the deep reverence shown to the forces of nature, which sustained and preserved human life on earth. Indian tradition acknowledges that all life forms – humans, animals and plants – are equal and sacred, and thus appropriately placed to support each others existence. The Hindu scriptures like the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, and Bhagavad Geeta have all expressed the sacredness of various aspects of the environment and its conservation. The Upanishads provide a vision of cosmic piety and harmony with the natural environment.
India’s National Environment Policy that existed till now embedded at least minimum thought and science from our great tradition which was a response to our national commitment to a clean environment, mandated in the Constitution in Articles 48 A and 51 A (g), strengthened by judicial interpretation of Article 21. It acknowledged maintaining a healthy environment as well as well as to adhering to international efforts on biosphere conservation as State's responsibility .
Now as a result of human greediness, race for power, and unprecedented devastation of natural resources contemporary world is endangering the existence of our planet and all beings both living as well as non-living. So it is late to make environmental laws stricter considering the future generations. Humanity has much hope in individuals like Greta Thunberg and Govts like that of present India headed Sri. Narendra Modiji for giving leadership for protecting this planet as one that can sustain life. But no one expected that BJP government under you will at a single stroke endanger India's environment disregarding our ancient wisdom and the sustainable science in the world like that of the Amazon people. Even we have an environmental history in which Colonial rulers –British made a law here which punished an educated Britisher destroying forest at the sources of our rivers with Rs. 100 or more as fine while the natives or tribals doing the same crime was punished with a fine between Rs 5 (Nilagiri, Madras Presidency).
We need not describe how the proposed EIA is against ethics and principles of even such colonial rulers and all wisdom and how it is going to affect our future. But kindly permit us to mention a few aspects. It will surely have negative impact on land-use, water extraction, deforestation, pollution, and waste and effluent management of industrial projects. It will permit wealthy minority to extract resources for their luxury by destroying the majority's life sustaining environment. Even with available legislations, they are doing this harm resulting in disasters like the flood that is repeating for last three years in Kerala, which affects only the weaker sections of the society including tribals.
Actually we need much stronger laws to protect the environment and to ensure that natural resources are available to the poorest who need them the most. There are a large number of communities like SC/STs Adivasis, peasants and coastal and fisher communities whose lives mainly depend on the state of the environment. As the proposed EIA will have direct impact on the living and working conditions of these weaker sections- the majority it is their response that matters. But with their remoteness; language barriers and culture it will take much time for them to understand this law, which affects them only. So it is essential to give time and conduct awareness programmes so that all stakeholders can voice their opinion and reservations with full understanding of things.
In the above circumstances we request you to kindly do the needful to:
Withdraw the proposed Draft EIA 2020 and consider reissuing it with more strict clauses that can protect mother earth and ensure that there is widespread and informed public discussions on the implication of these amendments.
Conduct awareness programmes in local languages among the peasants, tribals/adivasies, fisher communities, and all those who live adjacent to hills, mountains, forests etc whose life blends with nature.
We hope that when India is headed by one of the greatest leaders India has seen in its modern history, the country will not enact such a law, which is against Indian tradition and wisdom; which will cause destruction to our mother earth and also mar reputation of India in international scenario.