Scrap the draft of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

Scrap the draft of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

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EIA has a direct bearing on the living and working conditions of people and the ecology. 

Over the years, EIA has been used as a 'rubber stamp' by successive governments since 1994 to legitimise environmentally degrading projects. This is why the EIA process is framed as a ministerial notification or a delegated legislation and not as a full-fledge Act. In effect, EIA have broken the links between the rural economy and ecology. Continuously the government in power has wielded India's EIA notification as a weapon against communities surviving on land and forests. They have justified diversion of water from communities to industries. They have given harmful and toxic industrial processes the license to ruin people's lives and contaminate entire landscapes.  EIA grants conditional approvals to projects. But the monitoring protocols to ensure compliance of an approved project's environment management measures barely have any intent to enforce the law. Even if these impacts are assessed through studies done as a part of EIA procedures, once the project starts, these impacts are written off as the costs of economic growth. 

Therefore, it is critical that the government provides a suitable and adequate opportunity for those impacted or likely to be effected by the design and implementation of EIA draft notification. Opportunities to understand and discuss the implication may be severely hindered due to the present health emergency with restricted public movement. These restrictions also make it impossible to disseminate information about the notification to communities who deserve to know and influence the notification. 

Hopefully, the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change will uphold its obligations towards informed public participation like the commitment to Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and also the Principles of Natural Justice while taking a considered view on the matter.