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Protests in India Against 'EIA 2020 Draft' with Hashtags #stopEIA2020, #withdrawEIA2020, #SaveEIA2020

Protests in India Against 'EIA 2020 Draft' with Hashtags #stopEIA2020, #withdrawEIA2020, #SaveEIA2020

Widespread protests and agitations against the new EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) draft in India are going viral on social media . 

The campaign has started against the draft environmental impact assessment (EIA) notification issued by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in March with the hashtags  #stopEIA2020, #withdrawEIA2020, #SaveEIA2020 .

The MoEFCC’s March 12 draft notification contains a set of new rules that will replace the 2006 notification and purports to make the existing norms “more transparent and expedient” in issuing environment clearances for development projects.

With the deadline for public consultation on the draft EIA 2020 fast approaching (August 11), huge number of petitons have now filed against the new EIA draft  by the citizens.

The new draft Environment Impact Assessment notification will limit the principle of public participation in environmental clearances, warns conservation biologist Neha Sinha.

What makes the draft Environment Impact Assessment provision so problematic?

Yash Marwah, environmental activist and founder of Let India Breathe, criticised the proposed draft saying, “The government still has the time to withdraw, rethink and finalise a stringent law to serve the natural resources of the country, especially post COVID-19 when the world is rethinking conservation. The lack of regional insights due to lockdown should be enough reason to withdraw this regressive notification instead of making changes in a hush hush manner that can have a long-term effect on how we manage climate crisis."

Here is a list few changes proposed by MoEFCC proposed in the draft:

a. The new draft allows for post-facto approval for projects, meaning that the clearances for projects can be awarded even if they have started construction without securing environmental clearances.

b. Public consultation process under the draft notification is reduced from 30 days to 20 days giving less time to the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.

c. The new draft now asks a project promoter to file a compliance report once a year, explaining the activities carried out by them according to the allotted permissions. The 2006 EIA notification asks the promoters to file a compliance report every six months.

d. With the new set of notifications, government will have the authority to categories the projects as “strategic”. For a “strategic project”, the government shall disclose no information to public.

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