EIA draft 2020: India's Roadmap to unclear skies and capitalist's license to exploit mother nature

By -  Ms. Anubhav

Amphan Cyclone(16-21May)

Assam Floods(May 2020)

Assam Oil and Gas Leakage(27 May 2020)

Gujrat  Chemical Explosion(3 June2020)

Visakhapatnam Gas Leakage(7 May 2020),

Locust attack and COVID-19 (30 Jan2020, as first case emergence in Kerala).

Assam Oil and Gas Leakage

The above-mentioned disasters are either man-made or act of God (nature). It seems that nature has created a holocaust for India.

Or these calamities are the naked and explicit consequences of humans' materialistic greed, which leads them to act on their brazen impulses of implementing projects which exploit mother nature

The new Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) Draft, 2020 enables projects to run without getting EC(Environmental Clearance)and with fewer checks and balances then prior. That implies exploiting mother nature for short term benefits, will be easier. 

Thus, the existence of the above tragedies, like Oil and Gas Leakage, etc will be more often, and borne potential to be an integral part of Naya Bharat.  

History and need for EIA(Environmental Impact Assessment )

After the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of  2nd December 1984  in Bhopal. GoI passed the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 which gave authority to the central government to ‘protect and improve the quality of the environment’.

On 27 Jan 1994 Union Ministry of Environment and Forest; promulgated an EIA notification making  EC mandatory on proposed activity(es)/ project(s), like mining, thermal project, coal mines, dams, highways, chemical plants, ports, airports, etc. 

Only Prior EC, setting or running such a company or project is legitimate according to EIA.

Highlights of EIA draft 2020

On 12 March 2020 Ministry of Environment and Forest released EIA draft 2020 on its official website. Some interesting proposal of EIA draft 2020 are as follow:

1. Post facto clearance                                                                    Post facto clearance means that if a project(s) is operating without EC and failed to fulfill safety parameters. Then, the provision of a draft allows project(s) to continue as EC can be obtained later. (Refer page 8,9 point 1and 2 mentioned in EIA Draft2020 pdf )

Styrene gas leakage at LG polymer, Vishakapatnam

As a case, the Visakhapatnam Gas Leakage tragedy(where environment clearance was not given) might be okay and legitimate even though a project/company doesn’t have EC.  

2.Reduction of public hearing time
The notice period for the public hearing is proposed to reduce from thirty days to twenty days. (Refer page29, point 22 mentioned in EIA draft 2020 pdf linked below)

Even after seven to eight-month, India's educated elite encounter difficult to puzzle out corona (origin, curbing technique, etc ). It is expected from layman to think and understand the pros and cons of a new proposed project, in 20 days and file objection.

3. Exemption from the public hearing                                            As per the EIA 2020 draft, cognizance of environmental violation can be claimed only by violater (project proponent in draft), government, regulatory authorities. (Refer Pg.29, point 22 as mentioned in pdf EIA draft 2020)

This implies that a company owner emitting tons of harmful gases in the environment is expected to file complaints against himself/herself.

But an asthmatic patient living in that locality, and adversely affected by Emitted pollutants is denied to take any cognizance(complain) against the emitter. People who will be most affected are made spectator. Interestingly, the company is envisaged to sing violations they make.

4. Strategic  Exemption                                                                 EIA draft states projects involving strategic consideration, no information relating to such project shall be placed in the public domain(therein no public hearing).

(Refer Page9, point 7 as mentioned in EIA draft2020)

Any project which is not intended to be notified to the public can simply be categorized as strategic importance, this might completely dilute the EIA process.

5. Additional Exemption From Public Consultation                       The draft states all the projects in the border area (100km from the actual line of control from Bordering countries) are exempted from public consultation.

(Page 19,point2 mentioned in pg 19, point 2//definition of border area page 3 in EIA draft pdf)

This exemption includes the total landscape of North-East India. This means that forests will be cut down on whims and fancies of crony capitalists. 

Flora and Fauna of seven sisters will be butchered as per the need of "PROJECT(S)",  and the natives will have no right to advise and counsel about their motherland and what type of development they want to see on their soil.

Now Assam Gas and Oil Leakage tragedy where a public hearing was not conducted might be new normal for us.

Hopeful this is  new strategy to combat floods in North East.

6. Ecological sensitive Areas                                                       Public consultation shall be limited to the district(s) where the National Park /Sanctuary, Coral Reef/Ecological sensitive areas are located.

(Pg 19, Para after point’g’  mentioned in EIA draft pdf )

As if corona origin(claimed to originate from human interaction with a wild animal, Pangolin) was not sufficient to give wisdom to not encroach wild settlement.

Corona Victims
Future of mankind if EIA draft2020 becomes EIA law 2020

LG polymer at Visakhapatnam is facing a heavy fine, responsibility for casualties, legal trial by NGT due to unlawful run of its plants without environmental clearance.

However if EIA draft 2020 comes into force, any identical mishap will not face legal trial(perhaps no responsibility for likely casualties) since it will be totally legal to run a company without EIA clearance.

All biodiversity sites in North East India, parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand will be open for exploitation by companies. It will surge more floods (Assam Floods, recently), Since no public consultation there.

The project might be set in ecologically sensitive areas, yet we  will be  just audience to this devastation

Ignoring environment safety by allowing post facto will enhance global warming (thus attracting dreadful Cyclone(s), Locust Attack(s), etc) and more unprecedented disaster.

The devastation caused by Amphan
It's still not late!

If you are distressed and concerned after estimating EIA draft 2020. 

The good news is that it's just the draft that means these provisions are not implemented yet. The democratic structure of governance, obliged GoI to take suggestions and input from India's citizens.

If you think that EIA 2020 is an anti-environment draft and promotes unsustainable development. Then, for your and your's children future, please drop a mail of your suggestion/improvements to the ministry of environment and forest on:

eia2020-moefcc@gov.in

The last date to send your suggestion is 11th Aug 2020. Be a responsible citizen and protect your mother nature with a mail.  

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