Why We Must Scrap
the Proposed EIA 2020
ranks 168 in EPI Index 2020 that measures the environmental performance
of 180 countries. All South Asian nations, except Afghanistan are ahead
of India in the ranking. And yet, the Ministry for Environment, Forests
& Climate Change (MOEFCC), Government of India, has published a new
draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2020 that is designed
to relax environmental standards in order to achieve “ease of doing
business” for corporations and agencies who have shown scant interest in
the environmental impact of their activities. If the changes proposed
are accepted, we will surely reach the bottom of the pit.
What is EIA?
Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA is a set of instructions, rules
and regulations that are used to evaluate the environmental impacts of
various plans, policies, programmes and projects prior to the decision
to move forward with the proposed action. The process helps to measure
the project’s necessity and its socio-environmental impact, gain public
and expert opinion to approve it, come up with alternatives (if
required), or completely reject the project. Empowered by the
Environment Protection Act 1986 (EPA), the process is what guards our
environment from being wiped out by development projects.
itself came in response to the 1984 Bhopal disaster which affected the
environment and human lives - 10000 people died and more than 2 lakh
people remain medically ill till date.
History of EIA Amendments
important thing to understand is that the 11-page 1994 EIA notification
was simple, direct and easy to read and understand even by villagers,
even though it was amended 13 times. The 2006 EIA notification had
already become very complicated and required expert assistance, with
more than 39 amendments and 250 office memorandums relating to its
implementation. The 2020 EIA notification is 80 pages and is very
complex for ordinary people to understand.
What is the EIA Draft 2020?
Environmental Impact Assessment Draft 2020 is a notification released by
the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to
replace the previous notification released in 2006. The public has been
given time till June 30th, 2020 to voice their opinions and make
recommendations, after which it will be fully functional.
Key Differences between EIA 2006 and EIA 2020 Draft
some of the many changes that will come into effect if the current EIA
2020 Draft is approved. All these changes are unacceptable and harmful
as they strip the protections placed on the environment by the previous
Taking away the power of the public
consultation is a regulatory process by which the public’s input on
matters affecting them is sought.
draft will reduce the number of days the public has to raise their
concern about a particular project.
25 toxic polluting industries will be allowed to come up closer to
densely populated areas and right at the borders of protected and
ecozones without any public consultation.
expressways or ring roads 70 m wide could be approved in protected areas
without public consultation or even a prior environmental clearance.
Introducing post facto approval
industries could potentially set up shop without the required
environmental clearance and then pay a fine for it after the damage has
already been done.
have less than 5 Ha mines in your backyard or 0 Km from protected areas
without public consultation which is now illegal.
government is not subtle in its encouragement of the commercialisation
of mining, giving away public resources for the highest bid in coal
EIA, if adopted, will allow any mining operation to extend their
environmental clearance from 30 years to 50 years.
operation could also increase its capacity by 50% without the necessity
of another environmental clearance.
Relaxed checks on industries
the extended time period, toxic industries have been categorised as “B2”
. This means that without a public consultation a project could come up
right near densely populated areas and at the boundaries of ecozones,
protected or critically polluted areas.
values have been relaxed like in the case of coke ovens from 2.5 lakhs
tonnes per annum threshold to 8 lakh per annum.
industries have been given an extended Environment Validity Clearance
from 5 years to 10 years!
Category B2 can also have large industrial estates even an area of 500
Ha which will result in frothing lakes and rivers, poor worker
conditions, industrial accidents, environmental catastrophes.
the things a competent EIA should tackle and remedy. Unfortunately, the
new draft lacks in character and therefore has lost this essence.
EIA 2020 introduces the term “Strategic”. When classified as a strategic
project, the public will not be able to access any information about the
Is the EIA 2020 Draft Impartial and Just?
goal since it’s conception in 1994 was to set up proper regulations that
were centralised, unbiased, and just, allowing for development only
after all the environmental costs were taken into consideration. However
the latest EIA Draft 2020 is partial towards rampant industrialisation
and projects, with no regard for the environment. It dilutes many
crucial points and legalises many currently illegal offenses that
industries commit. Allowing the draft to replace the previous 2006
notification will only create dire consequences not only to the
environment and its wildlife, but also to humans.
projects requiring environment clearance come up in village communities
where the capacity to understand such complicated technical jargon,
mostly in English is limited. The EIA 2020 draft has been published only
in English and Hindi without any regional language translation which
makes a large population of this nation completely unaware of the
implications of EIA 2020 on their lives and livelihoods.
Draft EIA 2020 Impacting Lives and Livelihoods
landslides in Karnataka and Kerala claimed lives of scores of people in
2018 and 2019. These were triggered by unscientific road widening and
illegal quarrying. The brunt of these events is borne by poor
communities like lower economic-strata citizens, workers, farmers and
fishermen. It is now globally established that the economic losses
arising from these disasters is far greater than the short-term economic
gains that may be targeted by loosening environmental controls.
draft if implemented would spell disaster to our environment and
livelihoods. While it is desirable to have industrial growth and
development, we have a responsibility to ensure that such development is
ecologically viable and in the best interests of all stakeholders.
reviewed the EIA 2020 draft that was published in MoEF Parivesh site on
23rd March 2020. Apart from objecting to 22 dilution points of EIA, we
propose over 30 points that need to be included to ensure EIA 2006 is
strengthened for a better environmental health of our nation.
your email response to the Environment Ministry:
date is 30th June 2020.
(With inputs from Dr. Claude Alvares, Goa Foundation)
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