Environment ministry says 17 lakh comments on draft EIA notification
New Delhi: The union environment ministry has received nearly 17 lakh objections, comments and suggestions to the draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 till Tuesday, including some repetitive emails.
Tuesday was the last date for submitting objections and suggestions to the contentious draft regulation, according to a Delhi high court order.
The ministry’s EIA division has been tasked with studying the issues raised by people in their submissions and coming out with a final notification. The notification is also being considered in the Delhi high court.
“It will take us some time to consider the issues raised by these comments and suggestions. Letters have gone to the minister (Prakash Javadekar), many have come to me and to other officials. Many of them are repetitive,” said environment secretary RP Gupta.
The environment ministry has also held meetings and discussions with several EIA consultants, industry bodies and companies, whose comments are being considered separately.
A total of 100 environmental groups, organisations and individuals, who are part of a national campaign to oppose the draft EIA notification, have over the last week addressed emails to 785 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs from 28 states and eight union territories, they said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We are calling upon them to take a stand against the anti-environment and anti-people draft EIA notification 2020 and demand its immediate withdrawal. As elected political representatives, these ministers are duty bound to protect the interests of the people and the nation and its resources, which this draft legislation is bound to adversely impact. We have called upon the ministers to write to the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) to demand withdrawal of the draft EIA notification 2020 and demand instead that strong environmental governance be put in place in consultation with the people, for protecting the ecology and natural resources of our country for present and future generations,” they said.
“On March 18, the environment ministry made an amendment to Clause 5 (3) d of the environment protection rules, which gives the ministry 725 days to finalise the draft notification from the date it was first issued. In 2006, this was 365 days and was amended to 545 in 2017. Given the number of reactions the ministry has received and the demand for a more democratic process, it will be important for the ministry to reconsider the issuance of a final notification based on this draft. The comments can be used to set up a revised process which can be built on the comments received and to reach out to places where the news of the current amendments are yet to reach,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at Centre for Policy Research.
The draft has become an issue of political debate.
On Sunday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the draft EIA notification is “not only disgraceful, it is dangerous.” The hashtags #IndiaNotForSale and #LootoftheNation were trending on Twitter, with people drawing attention to concerns with the draft notification and demanding its withdrawal.
“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.
“Campaigning against a draft which is not a final notification yet is unnecessary and premature,” Union environment minister Javadekar told journalists in an audio message.