Ramesh-led House panel to discuss draft Environment Impact Assessment

Jairam Ramesh.  

After a flurry of letters between Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on the implications of the Draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 (EIA 2020), the Parliamentary Committee of Science and Technology headed by Mr. Ramesh will deliberate on the subject at its meeting scheduled for August 7.

Watch | What is EIA and why is India's new EIA draft problematic?

The meeting comes three days ahead of the deadline for submission of public comments and objections to the Draft EIA 2020, which ends on August 11.

Representatives of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have been called to explain the draft. DMK Rajya Sabha member R.S. Bharathi, a member of the committee, had also urged Mr. Ramesh to convene a meeting at the earliest to deliberate on the subject after his party president M.K. Stalin demanded that the government revisit the draft.

In reverse gear: on draft EIA notification

Mr. Ramesh wrote his first letter to Mr. Javadekar on July 25 saying that the proposed changes in the EIA display a mindset that “environmental regulations are unnecessary regulatory burden.”

‘Unfounded points’

In response, Mr. Javadekar on Sunday said the points made by Mr. Ramesh were “unfounded and based on misinterpretation.” He said government decisions were always open to “scrutiny by Parliament and standing committees.”

Also read | Draft EIA Notification 2020 could spell disaster for Western Ghats, say experts

Mr. Ramesh shot back a four-page letter to Mr. Javadekar on Monday detailing his five main objections to the draft that he had sent in his July 25 letter. He says the draft allowed post-facto approvals which go against the very principle of assessment and public participation prior to environmental clearance, and has provisions that will routinely legitimise illegality. Second, the notification reduces public participation in all steps of the environment clearance process, lessening the notice period for public hearing and doing away with them for a large category of projects. Third, it does away with the environmental impact assessment altogether in many cases of expansion and modernisation. Fourth, it increases the validity of environment clearances allowing projects to “secure” land for long durations even when they are not constructed. And finally it gives the Union government full powers to appoint State environmental impact assessment authorities, which Mr. Ramesh called, another nail in the coffin of cooperative federalism.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 4:41:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/ramesh-led-house-panel-to-discuss-draft-environment-impact-assessment/article32234003.ece

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