If you have paid close attention to the news, you must have heard about the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2020. For months, activists, environmentalists, students among many others have been protesting it, calling it ‘anti-environment’.
To understand why that is, we should first know what the EIA is. It is a legal process that examines, evaluates and predicts the environmental cost of any developmental programme or project.
EIA is statutorily backed up by the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, which was enacted after the Bhopal gas leak disaster in 1984.
But our new EIA draft is considered to have some problematic changes in rules. According to The Hindu, experts say most of the provisions in the new draft of EIA are regressive.
What it does it that it gives all industrial projects operating illegally without environmental clearance to turn legal by submitting a remedial plan and some penalty.
Firstly, even without the EC, the damage done to the environment by such projects would be irreparable, especially now that are already in the middle of a mass extinction.
According to Livemint, the draft says:
The cognisance of the violation shall be made on the suo moto application of the project proponent; or reporting by any government authority; or found during the appraisal by Appraisal Committee; or found during the processing of application, if any, by the Regulatory Authority.
In case, you found the above statement bizarre and confusing, that’s because it barely functions on logic.
It says that any violations can be reported only by the government and the project proponent themselves and not by citizens. It effectively puts the onus to report a violation on the project developer.
The draft also exempts a list of projects from being subject to EC.
All projects concerning national defence and security or involving other strategic considerations as determined by the Central Government.
The border area is defined here as ‘area falling within 100 kilometres aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control’ which covers much of the North East.
We, as a people, should look to strike an accord between industrialisation and protecting the environment. Lately, we haven’t been paying attention as the balance has terribly faltered. We need to start paying attention or risk losing what little we have.