New Delhi, 9th Aug 2020: KH Abdul Majeed, national general secretary of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has welcomed the direction of the Karnataka High Court to the central government to not publish EIA draft notification till September 7. The Ministry of Environment had published the draft on the eve of the total lockdown related to Covid19 pandemic which had practically made it impossible for the public to give their feedback on the notification, said Abdul Majeed.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse. India notified its first EIA norms in 1994 Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, to regulate activities that access, utilise, and affect (pollute) natural resources. Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance ever since.

The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006. Earlier this year, the government redrafted it again to incorporate the amendments and relevant court orders issued since 2006, and to make the EIA “process more transparent and expedient.”The most salient feature of the EIA was the chance for the public to partake in the EIA process, and enough time had been provided to ensure public participation in EIA. But the EIA Notification 2020 has totally revamped the crucial norms in EIA to favour the corporates and almost denying the citizens the opportunity to raise objections about the projects that needed EIA clearance.

The Delhi High Court had in June ordered the government to extend the period for filing suggestions by the stakeholders to August 11. This was after the government had changed the deadline from August 10 to June 30. Now the Karnataka HC has asked the government to further extend the date to 7th September, enabling the stakeholders to give their feedback on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020. The court had criticised the ministry for publishing the draft in English and Hindi only. Delhi High Court has extended the time for giving suggestions to the draft EIA notification of 2020 till August 11

Karnataka High Court directs Centre to not publish draft notification till September 7.

The court noted that the people had not been given sufficient time to file their objections amid the coronavirus crisis.

The intervention of the court in a very crucial issue that would ruin the ecosystem of the country is highly appreciable and it is a silver line in the cloud that the judiciary has not fully surrendered to the central government, said Abdul Majeed.