The draft of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 was put out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in March earlier this year. The new draft EIA notification, arriving in the midst of a global pandemic, only gave the public the option to share their comments by June 30. While the deadline now stands extended to August 11, the demands and petitions to withdraw the EIA notification 2020 continue to pick up steam. From making it easier for industrial projects to evade environmental clearances to doing away with public hearings with the indigenous and local population to encouraging non-transparency, the draft EIA 2020 dilutes several environmental regulations necessary for protecting the environment.
1. What is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification?
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a significant tool used by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to minimise the adverse impact of industrialisation on the environment. It lays down the environmental clearance processes that a project has to go through before it is given the green light. This involves a thorough screening process by authorities and experts. An EIA is extremely important to minimise the risk of oil spills, gas leaks, and release of other industrial toxins into the environment.
2. What’s the Problem With the New Draft?
In the new draft of the EIA, several amendments have eased processes for industries to set up projects that could potentially have negative social and environmental impacts.
The draft EIA 2020 dilutes public consultations that is required by a project to be greenlighted and reduces the time period for local people to submit their objections. Due to this, vulnerable communities like tribal people, villagers, fisher communities etc., would be further excluded from the decision-making process of projects that could directly affect their lives. The EIA notification 2006 allowed only six major project types to be spared from holding public hearings. But the new 2020 draft adds around 14 new items to the list. Now, projects like construction of waste treatment facilities and expansion of national highways would be free from holding public hearings.
3. What Can You Do?
After the MoEFCC released the draft EIA 2020 in March earlier this year, there were several protests and petitions filed against the new draft. The last date for public comments was preponed from August 10 to June 30, but Delhi High Court has extended the deadline for public feedback on the draft EIA notification 2020 to August 11.
Therefore, you can:
- Sign petitions opposing the draft EIA 2020. Several petitions calling for the withdrawal of the EIA notification, 2020 can be found online.
- Write an email to the environment minister. You can find several pre-written e-mail templates to the environment ministry online. An activist group called There Is No Earth B, has created a repository of such email templates in several regional languages, which can be found here.
- Read and share news, opinion pieces by environmentalist groups and activists that highlight why we must oppose the new draft EIA notification.