Impact and Consequences of EIA Draft 2020

The introduction of new EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) is very significant amid the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic destruction of habitats & wildlife. The new EIA draft has been strongly criticized by environmental and climate change activists across the country. #EIA2020, is  one of the trending topics on the social media platforms. Many campaigns were also organized to encourage the public to write to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to recognize its potential devastating impact at a time when we should be focusing on conserving our natural systems. Everyone’s thoughts were same that development is important, but not at the cost of our only home i.e Earth.  

Before going to discuss what will be the impact and consequences we need to understand that the EIA   is the tool to achieve sustainable development . It is the process or study which predicts the effect of development proposals on the environment and prevents them from being approved without following the required safeguards essential for the environment.  But unfortunately, the  EIA Draft 2020 proposed by the Union government is a regressive departure from the 2006 version that it seeks to replace. It is an attempt to weaken environmental regulation and silenced the affected communities. The draft seems to be leaning in the favor of industry and doesn’t strike a balance between development and the environment. Many environmental activists and politicians claimed that this draft will adversely affect the environment .The Union government, on the contrary, argues that the new draft will reinforce transparency and expedite the process and  claiming that it will not harm environment .  In fact , it will  help in  economic development. 

Some of the major amendments made in the new  draft, which will create negative impact and leads to bad consequences for people and the environment are the following:

Post Facto Clearance : This is one of the most controversial topics of the EIA 2020 . It simply gives power to industries to ‘violate the rule first and seek clearance later’ . Even if a project has come up without environment safeguards or without getting environment clearances, it could carry out operating under the provision of the new draft EIA 2020. If this provision approved, then it will proved disastrous  because we already have several projects that are running without EIA clearances. Some of the recent  examples are the LG Polymer Plant in Vishakhapatnam, where the styrene gas leak happened and took the lives of many people. It was later  revealed that the plant had been running for over two decades without clearances. A similar incident  happened  in Tinsukia , Assam where due to poor adherence of environmental norms, the natural gas of Oil India Limited had a blowout and caught fire. This caused severe damage to the livelihoods in the region rich with biodiversity. And  according to the report of  the State Pollution Board, Assam, the oil plant had been operating for over 15 years without obtaining prior consent of the board. 

Public Participation and Complaints : There are also two crucial ways in which the new draft endeavors to take power away from communities. First, it reduces the time allotted for public hearing  has been reduced  from 30 days to 20 days.  Secondly, the 2020 draft  spells out that now complaints  regarding the violation of EIA rules, has to be reported either by a government authority or the developers themselves. There is no scope for any public complaint about violations. Hence , we can say that this proposal tries to curtail rights of the communities by legalising projects that have already caused a great deal of harm and have been operating without approvals from the EIA. All these factors have made it difficult for people living in rural and tribal areas to participate and share their concerns. They are most often directly impacted by such projects. 

Many Exemptions : The draft exempts a long list of projects from public consultation. Several large-scale projects were re-categorized as B2 (projects that do not require EIA) and thus exempted from it. There is a list of the selected projects in the new draft that have been proposed to be exempted from public participation. Expansion or widening of highways, modernization of  irrigation projects, all projects near Line of Actual Control(LAC),  area development projects are part of the list. Once this draft approved huge numbers of forest were cut down in order to expand highways, set up factories which  led to a huge destruction and cause  bad impact on the  environment and us .

Linear projects in a 100km of LAC:  Linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing. The north-eastern region comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura which  is a unique biodiversity hotspot. This draft will harm the rich biodiversity and will  face many environmental problems that  can usher irreversible damage to the flora and fauna.

Ultimately a weak EIA report on one with the clearance with fast track will lead to environmental damage. Public participation has been crucial in the EIA process and has significantly helped communities to not only get information about the projects being proposed in their areas, but also to speak about their concerns regarding the projects. Weakening the EIA process means abating democracy. The draft EIA grossly neglects consultation with the affected communities. To limit public consultation means to silence voices that are barely heard otherwise.  The current EIA draft 2020 has severely diluted environmental protection, which will add to the degradation of the environment. It can become an uphill task for the government to tackle the pollution levels of air, water bodies and forests, just like Delhi.

36 thoughts on “Impact and Consequences of EIA Draft 2020

  1. I appreciated your clearly written and thought-provoking article.

  2. Well written 👍
    Thanks for the information

  3. Well written and informative. The writing was quite detailed to give us an understanding of the horrifying effects of the EIA Draft 2020 if passed.

  4. Expertly researched and written.

  5. The EIA draft seems to favours the industries and seems to be largely neglecting the balance between sustainable development and environment protection, a disastrous EIA 2020 is the last thing we need. Rightly pointed out in this post

    1. Yes, in this draft government only focuses on development while we need sustainable development.

  6. Appreciate your coverage!

  7. Thank you for making me aware of such an important issue.

  8. Very informative and well put. Government should definitely take some steps regarding environment.

  9. Highly informative. I’ve seen people promoting EIA without knowing the devastation it could bring. Hope this would help them gain the required knowledge.
    Waiting for more articles from you.

  10. Very informative information. I didn’t have much knowledge about this topic earlier 👍. Keep up the good work.

  11. Thanks for giving us such an important information. You have written very elaborately about the adverse effect on the environment if this EIA 2020 draft is passed. It’s time we focus non conventional resources more rather than exploiting our environment. This draft doesn’t seems good for future..

  12. After I read this topic, I better known about this. Thank you for giving such type of information

  13. Enhanced my knowledge. Thanks for the article. Very well written.

  14. Praiseworthy… well written

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