Campaigning against draft EIA premature: Prakash Javadekar
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday that Congress leaders were campaigning against the draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 because they had no other important issues to raise, stressing that it is still a work in progress.
“Campaigning against a draft which is not a final notification yet is unnecessary and premature,” Javadekar said to journalists in an audio clip.
“In the past 150 days people have responded in large numbers to draft EIA 2020 notification. The rule is that 60 days are given to public to respond to a draft notification, but because of Covid-19 we gave more time of 150 days in total. Thousands of people have responded and I welcome their comments and suggestions. Some people are so excited that they have started campaigning now. But this is a draft,” the minister said. “We will first discuss the suggestions and objections received. then a final decision will be taken. It seems like they have no other events or programmes so they are campaigning against this. This attitude is not good.”
Green activists have been critical of the draft notification because of the inclusion of a number of contentious clauses that they say could weaken environmental regulation.
Projects that have violated norms can be regularised based on appraisal and asked to furnish a bank guarantee, according to the draft. Contentious clauses include one that seeks to exempt many projects seeking expansion or modernisation with a capacity increase of up to 50% and new projects from requiring public consultation and another that extends the time-frame for project proponents to report compliance with environment clearance conditions.
Javadekar was responding to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who on Sunday said the draft environment impact assessment notification of 2020 is “not only disgraceful, it is dangerous.” On Sunday, #IndiaNotForSale was trending on Twitter which had people drawing attention to concerns over the draft EIA notification and demanding it be withdrawn.
“Not only does it have the potential to reverse many of the hard-fought gains that have been won over the years in the battle to protect our environment, it could potentially unleash widespread environmental destruction and mayhem across India,” Gandhi wrote in a lengthy post on a social media platform.
Gandhi on Monday tweeted: “EIA 2020 draft must be withdrawn to stop #LootofTheNation and environmental destruction.”
The deadline for submission of feedback on the draft is Tuesday. The environment ministry has received well over 100,000 comments and suggestions on the draft as of Friday, HT reported on Monday, citing an environment ministry official who declined to be identified.
Javadekar said that when the Congress was in power,it implemented many decisions “without even consulting the people.”
“I have replied point by point to Jairam Ramesh (Congress leader and former environment minister). Today it’s premature for me to respond. How can you protest a draft? A draft is a draft. not a final notification,” he added.