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Visai NGO started this petition to Ministry of Environment and Forests

Requirement of Prior Environment Clearance or Prior Environment
Permission: The proposal to give permissions for fencing and levelling without
any EC is flawed. Levelling involves transformation of a landscape. The low-lying
areas which may be natural drain channels, marshlands, waterbodies etc. can get
filled up and changed due to levelling work thus impacting local ecology. Such
allowances cannot be made without comprehensive study in the EIA and
consideration by experts of EAC.
2. Preparation of Environment Impact Assessment Report: The condition for
collecting a baseline data study or one season study for an EIA is completely
flawed, unscientific and unacceptable. We reiterate that in order to make a
report on the estimated impact of any activity, it is a must that three season
study be done as that would give a better picture of seasonal variations and help
predict impacts. In Para 13 subclause 11 we oppose the substitution of EIAs

with EMPs for category B2 projects. Even a small project can have a large
damaging impact in a eco fragile zones. The concession of EMP means that the
prospect of damage has been condoned and safeguards removed.
3. Public Consultation: In the environment clearance process, public consultation
is a fundamental component. In the latest draft, the MoEFCC proposes to expand
the list of projects that are exempt from public consultation. These include
modernisation of irrigation projects, all building, construction and area
development projects, inland waterways, expansion or widening of national
highways, all projects concerning national defense and security or involving
“other strategic considerations” as determined by the central government, all
linear projects like pipelines in border areas and all the off-shore projects
located beyond the 12 nautical miles.
The draft also proposes to reduce the public commenting period from 30 days to
20 days and requires that the public hearing process be completed in 40 days,
compared to 45 days under the 2006 notification. The reduction of time would
particularly pose a problem in those areas where information is not easily
accessible or areas in which people are not that well aware of the process itself.
As the Supreme Court has said in several judgements over the years, the time for
making any representation should be adequate and if it is not, then it would be a
violation of the principles of natural justice. Hearings conducted across the
country have been notorious for providing incomplete EIA reports, encouraging
discussions on irrelevant details of the project, high levels of discrepancies in the
information provided etc., thereby rendering the entire idea to involve citizens in
environmental decision making, moot. The notification does not address these
deficiencies pertinent in the process of public consultation, nor does it seek to
ensure the authenticity or increased reach of information, that is critical for the
concerned citizens to effectively participate in the process. Public participation
remain vital elements of environmental decision-making processes and cannot
be diluted as proposed in the current draft.
4. Post Facto Approvals: Instead of focusing on ensuring the protection of the
environment, the draft EIA 2020 undermines the orders of the National Green
Tribunal which had ruled against post-facto approvals. It seems like the purpose
of this notification is to legitimize illegalities done by industries. It makes a
mockery of Environment Protection Act by suggesting that an industrial project
that has violated the process of seeking approvals will have a right to seek
approval despite the wrongdoings.
We also object to the manner in which the draft deals with environmental
violations by various industries. Cases of violation mean instances where
projects either started the construction work or installation or excavation or
expanded the production or project area without prior environment clearance.
In March 2017, the national government had come out with a notification that
provided industrial projects with a chance to regularize projects that started
construction or undertook expansion and modernization without prior
environment clearance. It was supposed to be a one-time chance but since then,

the mechanism has turned into a fait accompli situation. The draft EIA 2020 goes
a step further as it institutionalizes this fait accompli situation.
5. Environment vs Economic development: This draft seems to be appeasing the
business and economic interests over environmental interests. This is evident
from the fact that the draft proposes extension of the time given for submitting a
compliance report throughout the term of the project. The earlier notification
required that the project proponent submit a report every six months, showing
that they are carrying out their activities as per the terms on which permission
has been given. However, the new notification requires the promoter to submit a
report only once every year. This leaves a lot of room for promoters to pick and
choose the data and information which is to be supplied. Arguably, if a
proponent is engaged in developmental activity, he has the scope of either hiding
data about the detrimental consequences of the activity or downplaying its
Overall, we believe that the
a. current draft is unconstitutional
b. rewards violators;
c. rewards regulatory lethargy;
d. turns the task of environment impact assessment into an environment
e. dilutes the existing mandatory provisions to discretionary ones.
We demand a complete recall of the proposed draft and register our strong
protest against any dilution of the existing provisions of the EIA notification

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At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!