WITHDRAW EIA 2020 (Environment Impact Assessment)

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Subject: Plea to withdraw the Environment Impact Assessment 2020 Draft Notification [F.N.2-50/2018/IA.III]

We write to you as concerned citizens regarding the draft notification of the Environment Impact Assessment, 2020.

The long-term public health, social and economic impacts of this global pandemic are yet to be ascertained. The EIA notification is an important regulation through which the impacts of land-use change, water extraction, tree felling, pollution, waste and effluent management for industrial and infrastructure projects are to be studied and used in developmental decision making. Any change in this law has a direct bearing on the living and working conditions of people and the ecology.The main problem here is that there is no scope for public complaint meaning we the public can not take actions and have to stay quiet. 

Response Time Reduction

The Response period for the public to any notification of a project in EIA 2006 was 30 days but EIA 2020 Draft reduced the public response time to 20 days. The problem here is that how can govt. expect that a big project approval would first be understood by the local people who would then imagine and then calculate its futuristic impacts on the Environment and then a complaint would be registered in just 20 days. How can the impact assessment and response of such Big project would all be done in 20 days?

Post Facto Clearance

EIA Draft 2020 suggests that if a project has come up without environmental clearance, it can still continue its operation. The Environmental clearance can be obtained later by paying a small fine as long as the project is permissible on that site. In the meantime how is the environment impacted and how many lives are endangered it doesn’t matter.

Citizens cannot take cognizance of violations

A troubling aspect of the EIA 2020 draft notification is that the power to officially report environmental violations in projects under the EIA is with the project developers and government authorities, leaving no scope for directly affected communities to report violations. This effectively strips away the right of citizens, especially local communities and other stakeholders from taking recourse against violations.

Impact on wildlife and habitats, including tiger landscapes

Even though the projects falling under the purview of the EIA (and otherwise) have profound impacts on wildlife and their habitats, the EIA process has fallen woefully short of addressing these concerns, a failing that continues in the draft notification. This failure to factor in wildlife considerations is one we can ill-afford, given the unprecedented extinction rates and collapse of nature.

Article 51 A (g) of the Indian Constitution dictates that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen

“to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.”

 We are surprised that the environment ministry needs to be reminded that an EIA law should imbibe these values.In light of the above concerns, we request the MoEFCC to withdraw and shelve the EIA 2020 Draft Notification. The need of the hour is to strengthen the EIA 2006 notification that must ensure that it upholds the principles of environmental jurisprudence that include the precautionary principle, polluter pays principle and access to justice and administrative transparency.