and lives have been on a roller coaster ride and the economy is in shambles due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic. The virus seems to be Mother Earth’s revenge for the atrocities that the human kind has done against the environment. So long as our needs are being fulfilled, very few of us are worried about our impact on the environment and hardly realists worth. India has been tediously trying to get lives on the normal course but there is something very serious that lies overlooked by the common people.
The EIA, 2020,notification or the Environmental Impact Assessment, 2020,was notified by the Government in public domain on 12th of March, 2020.The regulation has kindled mass protests from all ov
er the country as the experts seek that this regulation is a more pro-industry and anti-human regulation.
In India, environmental laws are governed by the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and under this various legislation are enacted such as the EIA, 2020.The EIA is an important regulation that prevents industrial and infrastructure projects from being approved or cleared without following the required safeguards. It looks at the potential impact that an industry would have at the environment and then a panel of experts will either grant or deny the clearance.
The EIA has faced mass protests due to its various provisions. Activists like, ‘Fridays For Future’, ‘Let India Breathe’ and ‘There Is No Earth B’are the vital members forming the opposition to the EIA. The draft proposes a significant change in the structure of environmental laws and process in the country. There have been such protests that authorities have put internet censorship over these activists.
Though the objective of the regulation seems to be much environment-protection oriented, where as having a look at the details of the draft, one can encounter various such provisions which are loopholes or are drawbacks of this regulation.
Firstly, the EIA forfeits the consultancy from the general public to a committee. Moreover, the real cause of troubles behind irrigation, highway projects, rope ways, building constructions and developments schemes, has been exempted from public consultancy. Secondly, the time taken to get the clearance has been reduced in order to expedite the process.
According to the draft notification, all projects require public hearings. The only exemptions are for things such as modernization of irrigation systems, projects under notified industrial areas, projects that don’t have an adverse environmental impact and those of national defense importance.
Another change made by the regulation involves the compliance report submitted by the industries.It is now required to submit the report only once a year which was twice a year previously.
Thirdly, one of the major loopholes is the post facto clearance given to the industries. This enables the industries to violate the regulation in itself by allowing such industries to get established without having gained a clearance. Like take for instance, the illegal coal mining being done by Coal India in DehingPatkai, Assam, since 2013. This post facto clearance will allow them to continue and moreover, it will be converted to legal mining. However, the notification has spelt out clearly in its article that even small chemical or pharmaceutical unit will have to get permission for operation. This is one of the very few improvements made by the regulation .
Another setback to this legislation is regarding its language and acceptance. The regulation has been written only in Hindi and English and not in the various vernacular languages for different parts of India.This reflects on the purpose of the enactment of the legislation.
On the positive note, the draft attempts to regulate the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ and ICRZ), which will help in preventing illegal trading and smuggling from which many parties have benefited.
The EIA, 2020, Draft challenges the principles of Fundamental structure of Environmental Laws and goes against the National Green Tribunal. In other words, it is a clear dilution of the already existing monitoring system. The aim of this regulation was not to be a hurdle in setting up of industries but the major loopholes plays a pro-industry role and reflect least interest in the area of environmental preservation.
“The opposition and NGOs are trying to mislead people on this because of the Tamil Nadu elections ahead”, Union Environment Minister, PrakashJavadekar, commented. It is only a matter of time when we will see the actual use of the legislation when laid to ground. In the current scenario where China is being seen as an adversary, the boycott of Chinese products will lead to establishment of production units in India by many other countries also. Consequently, the current government with the initiative of “Atma-nirbhar Bharat”, has been very keen on industry set up in India to float the economy with these industries. Hence,the legislation may be considered as a tool of the central government for inviting industries to get settled while only wearing the garb of checking environmental impact.Nevertheless, such a regulation with its loopholes is not a check but rather may be a way of gaining advantages from the shortcomings.
About the Author
3rd year law Student
from ICFAI Dehradun.
Editor Legitimate Scrutiny.