NEW DELHI: Amid resistance from a section within the government against extending the deadline for public opinion on the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, the
Union environment ministry
on Monday sought one more day to inform the
Delhi High Court
about its final decision.
The deadline for the notification, which is meant to streamline certain green clearance norms, is scheduled to end on Tuesday.
was hearing a petition of the Noida-based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad who sought extension of the timeline given to stakeholders, including the general public, to submit their suggestions on the draft EIA Notification, 2020 till September 30 or till the time the Covid-19 lockdown is in force.
As part of streamlining several green clearance procedures, the draft proposes post facto approval for certain projects, doing away with public consultation in some instances while reducing the time period for public consultations from 45 days to 40 days in some other cases.
Though the ministry contended that it has already received thousands of representations on the draft, the Court said there was "ambiguity" in the Centre's earlier decision on extending the deadline till June 30 and suggested that the ministry can continue processing the suggestions, while keeping the window open for some further time to receive more.
The ministry, however, sought one more day to take its call. The Court listed the matter for hearing on Tuesday. The draft notification was issued by the ministry in April with a 60 days period (till early June) for public opinion. This deadline was, subsequently, on May 8 extended till June 30 in view of the lockdown.
Many environmentalists have, been, opposing the move to rush through the EIA notification during the pandemic ever since it was first notified for public comments in April.
“Incorporation of rural voices and concerns is extremely important which for obvious reasons will be missed during the lockdown situations,” said Manoj Misra, environmentalist and Convenor of the NGO,
Misra argued that that the people in rural areas are at the frontline of all the drama that ensues once environmental clearance (EC) is granted to a project - be it their lands, livelihoods, water and above all their health.
“Please, do not rush this notification. Heavens are not going to fall,” said Misra in his appeal.
Over 60 University Student Unions, College Environment Clubs, and other Youth Groups from across the country too have jointly appealed to Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar not to rush through the EIA notification, noting that the “current amendments to the EIA would pose a serious threat to the environment and society, giving a free reign to several businesses and destructive industries such as mining and construction.”
In their letter to Javadekar ahead of the current deadline of June 30, they said, “As citizens of this great country and current stakeholders, we have many reasons to care about our environment. As we emerge from Covid-19, we need to make a choice about what kind of India we wish to live in. Our youth have decided to grow up on a land which has thriving forests and clean rivers, a balanced economy that places importance on sustainability and communities, and a system of policy-making that promotes dialogue with the citizens of India.”
In an initiative spearheaded by students of
the Ashoka University
, they appealed the Union minister for his support “to make India green”.