After receiving numerous representations for extending the notice period of the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification 2020, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Thursday announced that the notice period has been extended to June 30.
The deadline for sending in objections and suggestions to the draft notification was to end on May 22.
The ministry had published the draft notification on March 23 and soon after, the lockdown to curb COVID-19 came into force. Representations from environmental and policy research groups, civil society organisations and members of parliament, including former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, had requested for an extension. They had argued that the lockdown restricted the consultation process of the public and stakeholders, many of whom don’t have access to the internet.
The draft is a review of the 2006 EIA notification and has drawn criticism from environmentalists, who have said it is a “dilution of existing environmental norms’’.
“These are new regulations being brought in after 14 years and yet it does not address the challenges that we face. We are a signatory of the Paris Agreement and yet this EIA draft is fundamentally faulty – there is no proposed action which actually protects the environment.
On the contrary, we find environmental regulations are being further relaxed. One of the fundamental issues is that projects with violations, especially construction, can now receive post facto clearance,’’ said environmental lawyer Rwitick Dutta.
Kanchi Kohli of the Centre for Policy Research pointed out that waterway projects have also been included in the EIA’s B2 category and will “not require prior environmental clearance’’. “While we are happy that the Ministry has listened to the concerns of the people and extended the date of objections and suggestions, environmental laws need to be strengthened and not relaxed as is the draft EIA. For instance, the gas leak that in Visakhapatnam today; while this is an accident, there will now have to be an investigation to see whether this was a lapse. To ensure that violations leading to such incidents don’t take place, laws have to be more stringent. Such lapses adversely affect the economy,” Kohli said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines