Environmental Impact Assessment EIA Draft 2020 indirectly says, “We don’t care about public opinion”. Basically, the EIA is bound to protect the environment and natural resources in our country by implementing laws and control the damage to nature. However, EIA Draft 2020 has some big changes and doesn’t care about anyone and anything.
What does EIA actually do?
EIA generally protects nature. Monitors the mines and heavy projects which may cause damage to the environment. EIA had every power to take charge of companies that go beyond the limits and cause damage to the environment.
Every major project needs clearance from EIA before they start the work. The EIA is backed by scientists and many other officials.
Now, let me tell you what changes have been made in EIA in 2020 to protect the environment.
Before giving the environmental clearance to any project, the EIA prepares a report to publish. And this report is so important because it records the response of the people whom there is a direct impact. For example, if a project has to be developed near a forest area, the EIA prepares a report to record the response of nearby tribals to that forest.
The first EIA was made in 1994 and later it was replaced in 2006. And now the rules and regulations of EIA are rearranged to fight and control the draughts, floods, cyclones, and many more.
All the organizations that care about the environment thought that if the government is revising the EIA Draft 2006 in 2020, it would be more strict and stronger. Even the public thought the same as we are facing the disasters this year.
But what happened here is exactly the opposite. These laws indirectly say we don’t care about the environment nor the public’s opinion.
The lame decision in this draft is any project can start without taking environmental clearance and later after starting the operations they can apply for environmental clearance by paying the fine of 2,000 to 10,000 INR per day.
Do you think these fines will matter to those firms which carry their turnovers in crores? I don’t think so. Do you think the damage they did can be rearranged? I don’t think so. This rule is a great bonus to all the companies.
Going in detail we know what happened in Vizag in LG Polymers plant gas is an example. In the investigation after the incident happened over there, officials declared that there is no environmental clearance for the firm.
But the dame has been done, but the EIA Draft 2020 says, companies like these can take the environmental clearance after these losses too.
The shocking change made this year is, till now any of us can report the illegal projects which cause damage to the environment. But the new law says that only the government officials or the company itself have to report if any damage is made to the environment.
Whoever made this law, you guess expect the company itself has to come and report its flaws? Dude, this is not going to happen and you know this too. And taking the public’s power to complain against these activities is not at all helping us.
Sources say that all the inland waterways, national highways do not need any environmental clearance from now though these projects need to cut down major parts of the forest areas. The construction areas which exceed the area of 20,000 square meters need the clearance letter from the environmental department but now the limit is extended to 1,50,000 square meters.
And the most important part of the draft is, any project that is strategically important and recognized by the government will not be informed or shared to the public.
Basically, before approving any project, the public hearing was a must at a physical place. But now the hearings may be placed in any form, for example on a video call. It means, if a tribal area wants to report on a project, they should report and attend the hearing on a video call.
The public whoever wants to report on these activities before the approval, they have to study the thousands of papers in just 20 days. This new draft really sucks.
Let us take a look at some projects which got approvals in this lockdown:
· Assam: Coal mining project in Elephant reserves. Later put some tax on the public to protect the elephants.
· Telangana: Uranium Survey in Tiger reserve. Later, spend crores of the amount to save them.
· Maharashtra: Request to reduce 15% area from Eco-sensitive Western ghats. Later, place some machinery to purify the air as we did in Delhi.
· Karnataka: Permission to drill boreholes in Sharavanthi Sanctuary. Later complain about the shortage of groundwater.
· Goa: Clearance for power lines and roads in Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. Later, spend crores of the amount to bringing awareness to the public about the environment.
· Gujarat: Limestone mining in the Eco-sensitive zone of Gir National Park. Later, teach the world about Indian history about how we destroyed our self.
Would you believe me, if I tell you that all these approvals were given in this lockdown through the virtual meetings? But that’s the truth.
I know this is a boring topic for us but let me tell you, it is better to share this care before we see another country’s public praying for India in social media.
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