EIA DRAFT 2020: THE VIRUS OF THE ENVIRONMENT

By- Navya P Paviprasad.


Most of us have forgotten that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. EIA DRAFT 2020 act as a divider that separate us from nature thus lossing ourselves and also as a virus that destroy each cells nature's body.


What is EIA?

Environment Impact Assessment or EIA can be defined as the study to predict the effect of a proposed activity/project on the environment.For example if a person want to start a company he have to get clearance and NOC from govt. Among them most important one is Environmental clearance certificate. If they found that the proposed project is harmful they check how much scale it is and state necessary precautions by Ministry of Environmental Forest Climate Change in India. It is the govt of India who done planning, promotion, coordination of India's environmental and forestry policies and programmes.


History of EIA

The concept of EIA has started from 1979.USA is the first country to implemented the EIA. Previously, there is no such need to obtain clearance or NOC from govt except to Large hydro electric and Nuclear plants.Today globally it's get more mandate.In india, EIA has mandated in 1994. Thereafter occurs many amendments which favour to industrialists as well as environmentalists.


IMPORTANT AMENDMENTS OF EIA IN INDIA


1994

  • · Mandatory to obtain EC certificate

  • · Established of EIA Agency

  • · Imposed penalty or fine if there is malpractice

  • (Favour to environmentalists )

1997

  • Public hearing (favour to environmentalists)

2002

  • Cleared many high level investment project without Environment certificate

2003

  • Introduced more studies,research, inspection of project for better accessment.

2003

  • Project of high polluted area with in a 15 kilometre radius of sensitive ecosystem protected area would get environmental clearance from central government

  • · Came in awake of biodiversity Act 2002

2003

  • · public hearing not required for those projects taking 10 kilometer radius outside of sensitive ecosystem

2005

  • if the government things the project is not good then temporary working permit for 2 years will give without Environment Clearance

2006

  • · new notification on environmental impact assessment which replaced EIA 1994 notification


EIA 2006


  • The key feature of EIA 2006 notification is decentralization.Under this projects are divided in to two categories Category A projects and Category B projects.Category A projects are evaluated at central level by Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) that requires mandatory environmental clearance which do not need screening process and Category B projects are evaluated at state level by State Level Environment Impact Assembly Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).Category B project again divided in to two projects Category B1which mandatory equire EIA and Category B2 project which do not require EIA.

  • the capacity of the project is determined on the basis of the size not on the basis of the level of investment

  • the public consultation is done after EIA report if submitted

  • the public hearing time duration were reduced (14 -19 months, 21-28 months )to (10 -14 months)

  • if we want to attain sustainable development we have to get a balance between economic development and environmental development.but sometimes it is very risk and sometimes it is very uncertain to balance these in a good way. As an emerging countries like our it is very important to concentrate on the economic development. EIA draft 2020 was made under the shadow of cost-benefit principle which is clearly reflecting the phrase of "good at cost" which mean that the environment has to sacrifice for the development of the economy for the building of the infrastructure. Environment has a vital role for the survival of a healthy life in this world. Economic development without a healthy life is worthless.


CONCERNS OF EIA DRAFT 2020


Post facto approval

It means that the clearance of the project will be given if they started the construction or if they have been in the running process without securing the environmental clearances. It means that the government is not ready to halt any government plan because it will lead to hurt the economic development. on the other hand It means that any damage which is caused to the environment by a project is likely to be ignored by the government and the culprit might get away by simply paying the fine which might not be the damages caused to the environment.

Public consultation

The 2020 draft provided for a reduction of the time period from 30 days to 20 days for the public to submit any responses during the public hearing for any applications seeking the environmental clearance. the problem due to this is that reducing the time is not enough and it is not meaningful for any fair public discourse. It's like that the government wants to rush and wants to wrap it up as soon as possible. Now this kind of provision definitely make the public develops scepticism towards the whole EIA process. This will over time reduce the transparency and credibility. Further this reduction of time may cause the problem to those areas where information is not easily accessible. Language is also a barrier.. for example the people of the rural areas even now are not aware of this itself.


Relaxation of monitoring requirements /compliances

In 2006 notification projects have to submit its compliance report for every 6 months to the government. It is a way for the government to check whether the project is or not following the mandatory conditions of the provisions. However the 2020 draft requires the promoter to submit the report only once in every year. At least previously with the 6 months time frame government can keep an eye on the project and if there is any concerns it can be handled accordingly. If the time period is increasing to one year there can be many unethical, Irreversible, unseen environmental social consequences that will be difficult to handle when compared to the half year time compliance report.


Gaming the system and loopholes

It means what is the government creates a way for the Industrialist to bypass auror to avoid the whole EIA process by simply categorizing the project as strategic. this is a very important concern because once the project is listed as a strategic then the central government gets debarred from letting out information related to that project out into the public domain. and the irony is government will get into desired which project is strategic and on top of it the whole idea of categorising the project as strategic and including it in the draft is also government side here. and the question is what is that strategic projects violates the environmental norms? who is going to report that? further the new draft notification says that those project upto 1 lakh 50 thousand square kilometres instead of the existing 20,000 square kilometres do not need detailed scrutiny by expert committee nor they need EIA studies or public consultation.


Now this way the construction industry will be one such beneficiary. because the landscape which they operate is huge and if the government makes that construction industry as strategic then it will not fall under public scrutiny plus we also know that Defence and National security installations have also been in exception and there is no problem to that and also public understand about that. But the new category called strategic is awake category it is like all those laws were you see that all clauses and conditions, and in the end we can take one clause above all the clauses and conditions it's like article 352 national emergency that can be used to suspend all the fundamental rights of a citizen


To be conclude EIA DRAFT 2020 seen as an attempt to weaken the environmental regulation silence the affected communities and support the Industrialists.




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