What is it?
EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) helps in evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project, considering inter-related socio-economic, cultural, and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse. It helps in identifying the best possible outcome for the proposed project as well as reducing its impact on the environment.
Important Developments in EIA:
Why EIA 2020 draft is causing such an outrage?
EIA 2006 notification- a Glance:
According to the EIAs notification of 2006, it suggests the assessment of the environmental impacts caused by a project and laying out action plans in case of a disaster, depending on this a project may tend to be approved or rejected.
And hence utmost plan and thought are given before the project is initiated.
EIA 2020 Notification - The flaws:
This new draft throws away this procedure, it suggests that in spite of not issuing environmental clearances by the Government a project can continue to happen, then later legalize it after a committee conducts its appraisals. Alternatively, according to EIA 2006, the project will either be shutdown (if already started) or will not even have started due to not getting the required clearances.
For instance, the recent Vizag gas leak did not have all clearances in place and was later sealed off by the High Court, which alternatively will not happen in the new draft of EIA.
Also in the 2016 draft, the National highways were the highest level of inspection (Category A) for greater than 30 km with right of way of 20 meters. In the 2020 draft, it is applicable only when a highway is 100 km long with a right of way of 70 meters.
Similarly, in the earlier draft 20,000 sq.m buildings needed state-level expert appraisal committee scrutiny but now that has been increased to 1,50,000 sq.m, which means the building lower than the 1,50,000 sq.m does not require this scrutiny. (source)
At a time when the environment around us is depleting, the introduction of the draft feels like the government has failed giving an afterthought about the environment which is the sole purpose of the EIA.
What can we do?
The government has already taken down three websites (Fridays For Future, Let India Breathe and There Is No Earth B) opposing the draft, so there has been blame on the government for limiting the basic rights of freedom and speech.
There have been petitions flying around to be signed in order to reverse this draft. Petitions are not meant to either provide a proper solution or a pressurize the government.
By Article 21 it is our right to be a part of the decision making process, The Delhi High court has clarified that the last day to send in objections to this draft notification is August 11th, 2020. These objections will then be considered by the Union Government before passing the notification.
If you care about withdrawing EIA, copy-paste the email and add your points:
Secretary Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Indira Paryavaran Bhawan
Jor Bagh, New Delhi
Subject: Withdraw the draft EIA notification, 2020 [F.N.2-50/2018/IA.III] and defer the process of public comments in the light of the Covid-2019 pandemic
Dear Mr. Mishra,
This is with reference to the draft EIA notification, 2020 which has been uploaded on the environment ministry’s website on 12.3.2020 seeking public comments within sixty days of the issuance of the notification. We are deeply concerned that this draft notification has been put out in the midst of a national health crisis. As you are aware, most of the country is under lockdown and there are severe restrictions on movement in public places. Most offices are closed and the staff are working from home. These restrictions may be indefinite and it is not clear when public life and work can resume.
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 decisionmaking. Any change in this law has a direct bearing on the living and working conditions of people and the ecology.
Therefore, it is critical that the government provides a suitable and adequate opportunity for those impacted or likely to be affected by the design and implementation of EIA notification. Opportunities to understand and discuss the implications of the proposed amendments may be severely hindered due to the present health emergency with restricted public movement, social distancing and challenges to everyday life activities. These restrictions also make it impossible to disseminate information about the notification to communities who deserve to know and influence the notification.
We, therefore, request the environment ministry to:
1. Immediately, withdraw the proposed amendments of the Draft EIA notification 2020.
2. Consider reissuing the draft only after health conditions related to Covid19 and civic life is normalized across the country.
3. Ensure that there are widespread and informed public discussions on the implication of these amendments.
4. A full disclosure of the nature of comments received and the reasons for acceptance and rejection of these comments, prior to the issuance of the final amendments.
We do hope that the environment ministry 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 proposed amendments to the EIA notification, 2020.
Copy to: 1. Geeta Menon, Jt Secy, MoEFF (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Official email ID for responses to Draft EIA 2020: (email@example.com)
Read the complete draft here.
The smallest effort makes the biggest of change, so start dropping your mails to firstname.lastname@example.org by August the 11th.