Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has called out Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s claims that the government was rushing through the process of notifying the Environment Impact Assessment guidelines.
In a letter to Ramesh who also heads the Parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment, forest and climate change, Javadekar wrote, “It has not been finalised yet as public consultation is underway.
Ramesh has been actively standing against the Draft EIA 2020 and also wrote a letter to Javadekar flagging concerns over the draft put in the public domain by the government as part of the consultations process.
Over the past two weeks, the former and present environment ministers have exchanged a series of letters over the draft EIA notification.
Ramesh followed up with another letter earlier this week saying, “The Parliamentary Standing Committee has been inundated with requests from various stakeholders to give them an opportunity for presenting their views. I am sure you will agree that this is both desirable and necessary. Further meetings of the committee will call non-official witnesses. The Notification may, therefore, be kept in abeyance till the committee completes its deliberations.”
Javadekar in his response, further added, “Draft environment impact assessment notification does not relax the process of the public hearing, but makes it more meaningful.”
He also said that the provision of ex-post facto approval in draft EIA will bring violators under regulatory regime by imposing heavy penalties.
Javadekar also released his response on all key points of the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification on Twitter. The minister said he was ready to discuss all the objections (raised by Ramesh) in detail “when the situation warrants”.
The minister also said that while 30 days’ time is given under the current EIA to the public for feedback on a project, that the actual consultation takes place only on one day in the presence of district officials. Javadekar said that in effect the ministry was not reducing the time for public participation.
The Ministry has called for suggestions and objections to be submitted by August 11, after which the draft is to be notified.