The Central government has asked the Delhi High Court to review its direction to publish the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in all the 22 languages in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution, saying that official documents are required to be published only in Hindi and English.
A bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan on Friday issued notice to environmentalist Vikrant Tongad, on whose plea the High Court had passed the direction.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Environment Ministry, claimed that the court had been “misled” by the petitioner who stated that the government has in the past published its draft notifications in several other languages apart from Hindi and English.
The Centre does not have any obligation to publish the draft EIA notification in any language apart from Hindi and English, the Ministry said, adding that “trying to do the same would cause massive procedural and administrative difficulties”.
As on August 14, the Ministry has received over 19 lakh responses on the draft EIA from across the country.
“Issuance of notifications in multiple languages would in any case result in translation and interpretation issues resulting in the meaning of the words being obfuscated and often even lost,” the Ministry has said.
The Centre had on July 28 moved an appeal before the Supreme Court against the High Court decision. The top court on August 13, declined to entertain the appeal at that stage, but granted liberty to the Ministry to seek review of the High Court’s June 30 decision.
The draft EIA notification 2020 has several substantive new features and supersedes the EIA Notification 2006.
“This draft notification proposes significant changes to the existing regime, including removing public consultation entirely in certain instances, reducing the time for public consultation from 45 days to 40 days, and allowing post facto approvals for projects,” Mr. Todgad had said.
“Such a significant set of changes is bound to affect the public and members of communities in virtually all aspects of life, and they have a right to meaningfully respond to the same,” his plea had said.