Draft EIA will be disastrous for our State, says Arunachal students’ body
AAPSU says it is ‘too pro-industry’ and anti-people
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has said the Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA 2020) notification will spell disaster for a “frontier State like ours.”
The first among the northeast-based organisations to react to the draft, the AAPSU wrote to the Environment Ministry on Saturday citing “numerous loopholes in the proposed EIA 2020 that demand immediate attention and course correction.” It pointed out that the draft was “too pro-industry” and anti-people.
The draft virtually bins people’s participation in various projects and disallows public consultations besides not making “project proponents” accountable for harming the ecology, the union said.
“The idea of granting clearances to the project proponents without adequate checks and study defeats the very purpose of the EIA and the Environment Protection Act, 1986,” the AAPSU said, adding that the State-level EIA Authority needed to have at least seven members instead of three the draft proposes.
‘Shrouded in mystery’
The union welcomed the exemption from public consultation for all projects concerning national defence and security. But it said the provision of “projects involving other strategic considerations” to be determined by the Centre was confounding, ambiguous, shrouded in mystery and likely to be misused.
The union also sniffed “disaster” for a frontier State like Arunachal Pradesh vis-a-vis “linear projects” exempted from public consultation in border areas. The Draft EIA 2020 defines border areas as falling within 100 km aerial distance from international boundaries.
“Aerial distance of 100 km from the border will cover almost all of Arunachal Pradesh, which is a highly eco-sensitive zone. While we don’t have serious problems with highway or corridor projects passing through protected areas, we are of the strong opinion that oil and gas pipelines and slurry pipelines through such areas will spell ecological disaster,” the AAPSU said.
The union faulted the draft on several other counts such as proposing a notice period of only 20 days for the project-affected people to respond. “Adequate time should be given for the affected people to put forth their claims, objections and suggestions, if any,” it said.
“Our region for long has been the carbon sink of India. In addition to creating massive ecological imbalance and destruction, the Draft EIA 2020 will prove futile for the existence of numerous indigenous communities in the region,” the AAPSU said.