Environment Impact Assessment is a provision under the law that prevents industrial projects from being approved without proper oversight. The process under EIA ensures that all problem areas are addressed so that our environment does not end up a toxic mess.
EIA links environment with development for environmentally safe and sustainable development. It also provides a cost effective method to eliminate or minimize the adverse impact of developmental projects.
On 23rd March 2020, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a document for public scrutiny i.e the draft EIA Notification 2020. The original deadline was 10th of June, however, pertaining to high amount of criticism, the deadline was extended till June 30, 2020. This draft when scrutinized by experts was highly criticized as it did not confirm with the environment laws and contained major loopholes. It clearly prioritized industrial development over environmental safety.
The Delhi High Court has extended the time period granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change, Government of India for filing objections to the draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2020 till August 11, 2020 stating that it was surprised at the Centre’s rigidity in not addressing the uncertainty in it. The notice period provided public to send their comments/objections/feedback on the draft of EIA policy.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya, appearing for the Centre, said the draft EIA 2020 was published on April 11 and 60 days from then was to expire on June 11, but in view of the pandemic, it was decided to extend the period till June 30.
Responding to this, the Bench said, “What is the urgency in finalising this? The Centre’s response does not deal with the ambiguity at all… It is mentioned on the notification that the last date is June 30, this is an error apparent on the face of record”.
Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Mr. Tongad, urged the court for publication of the draft EIA in multiple languages. “Let every citizen of this country know what is happening to them. This is a fundamental rights issue. It affects tribals. It should be in multiple languages,” Mr Sankaranarayanan stressed.
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