Kerala

Social media abuzz with campaign against EIA

Three consecutive years of climate calamities in the State seems to have created an awareness among the youth regarding environmental issues, going by the number of youngsters who became part of a social media campaign calling for the rejection of the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020, which they alleged waters down the existing EIA notification of 2006.

After a delayed publication of the draft in the gazette by the Centre, the Delhi High Court had extended the deadline further to August 11 to register public opinion on the draft. With the deadline approaching, Malayalam social media has witnessed a sustained campaign from meme page creators, video bloggers and instagram influencers, all of whom veered away from their usual light-hearted content to speak about weighty environmental issues.

Sample mail

To make matters easy for their followers, a link to a sample e-mail to be sent to the Environment Ministry, requesting for rollback of the new notification, was also provided by most of them.

Some of the objections to the notification include allowing projects to go ahead without securing environmental clearance, which can be applied later, exempting a large category of projects from public consultation, reduction in notice period of public hearing from 30 days to 20 days and option of holding public hearing through digital medium which will limit the power of people in remote tribal areas to put in their opinions.

From mid-July

Even after the first deadline for public comments, which was later extended, there was hardly any noise in the public sphere regarding the EIA notification. In mid-July, pages like ‘Resist EIA 2020’ began to appear on instagram and facebook, with eye-catchy posters on the damage that the new notification could cause.

Soon, YouTube celebrities and instagram influencers, including Prapti Elizabeth, came out with explainer videos in their respective trademark styles. Prapti makes the issue relatable to the layman by comparing the EIA draft to removal of the courtship period in arranged marriages. The film-related meme contents include everything from the usual 1990s Malayalam movies-inspired memes to Kung Fu Panda. Celebrities, including actor Parvathy, were active in the campaigning. A part of the anger of the memes were directed against the Opposition parties and the mainstream media for not raising enough voice against the notification.

The Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, All Kerala People’s Science Network and the Students Federation of India too came out with a wide variety of materials explaining the history of the EIA and the need to preserve it in its existing form.

Apprehensive too

The administrator of a Malayalam meme page said that they were apprehensive about mass mails to the Environment Ministry after the Delhi Police had in July blocked the official website of Fridays for Future India, the Indian chapter of the environmental activism group founded by Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg, for sending “too many mails” to the ministry on the latest EIA notification.

On Monday, many of the campaigners posted screenshots of their e-mails to the ministry bouncing.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 10:48:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/social-media-abuzz-with-campaign-against-eia/article32317780.ece

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