The draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2020 has been in the news since it was released in the public domain on 12 March 2020 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for public suggestions.
The new EIA draft has been widely criticized by experts and activists, who say it has adopted a regressive approach in a departure from the existing 2006 version, and that it encourages environmental violations.
On 30 June, the Delhi High Court extended the time granted for public opinion on the contentious 2020 EIA draft until 11 August.
To uncover the implications of EIA draft and changes it needed, Let Me Breathe partnered (storytelling partner) with the Indian Institute of Forest Management for a panel discussion titled ‘Draft EIA Notification 2020: A Revaluation’ that took place on August 1, 2020.
The panelist included Mr. Ritwick Dutta (Founder&Managing Trustee, Legal Initiative for forest and Environment), Dr. Hishmi Jamil Husain (Bio Diversity Head Corporate Sustainability Tata Steel), Dr. H.S Pabla (Retd. IFS) (Forestry and Wildlife Management Professional and Consultant) and Dr. Urmila Jha Thakur (School of Environment Sciences, University of Liverpool).
The panel was moderated by Dr. Prasad Modak (Executive President Environmental Management Centre LLP).
Urmila Jha Thakur while assessing the Draft EIA 2020 said, “In terms of the earlier draft, transparency is something we had made maximum progress on. But, the 2020 draft is actually pulling us back again. We are going backward with transparency. In terms of followup, we want to make our compliance better. But, who will check compliance? We do not have the manpower at all. There is no investment made into compliance. So, I have my doubts here. “
Mr. Ritwick Dutta said, “The draft 2020 is designed to fail. It is designed in a manner that will allow non-compliance to take place. Earlier also, I have not come across a single EIA which has honestly disclosed the impact of a project.”
He added, “Realistically speaking, it never worked. The intentions of the latest EIA draft are very clear. Reduce the scope of public participation. Presently, you have 30 days to comment on an EIA report. It has reduced to 20 days in the latest draft.”
“This notification 2020 clearly seems to be a dilution of the EIA process we had earlier. The public consultation time is extremely short that is a major concern”, said Dr. H.S Pabla.
The live was attended by more than 100 people.
(Here is a draft letter urging the Ministry to withdraw the notification. If you are against the Draft EIA 2020, copy-paste the email and add your points, it will hardly take 30 seconds.)
(Have something to say on the draft EIA notification 2020? Tell us about it here)