The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change has issued a draft of Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) notification 2020 which is going to replace draft EIA notification 2006.The draft has proposed a new set of rules for various industrial projects. It majorly aims on the process of issuing environmental clearance more transparent through implementation of online systems. And it’s all over the news. It’s nothing new, so what’s the matter? Why is it so important and what’s the difference? Let’s compare between previous drafts and recent drafts and find out what’s the problem.
• Period for public consultation
India notified its first EIA norms in 1994, where period for public consultance is 30 days ,whereas, in 2016, it has increased up to 45 days and now government has changed it to 40 days only.
• Monitoring period
In 1994 and 2006, the project authorities have to monitor projects for compilation with environmental norms every 6 months but now government gives a relaxation of up to once a year.
• Environmental clearance
Onus of providing environmental clearance for projects laid entirely up on central government in 1994, where there is no division of categories for projects mentioned in schedule 1.
In 2006, the government decentralized its power between central and state government, they also categorize project mention and schedule one into category ‘A’ in which national level appraisal should be there and category ‘B’ where state level appraisal was needed.
Whereas in the draft of 2020, the project mentioned in schedule one is divided into three categories that are category A, B 1 and B 2 based on the potential social and environmental impacts and spectacle extends of its impacts.
• Environmental clearance process
Earlier in the draft of 2006, We have only four processes that is cleaning, scoping, public hearing and appraisal and that to only mandatory for category A and there is no screening process for it ,whereas, for category B project would have to undergo screening to determine whether they belong to category B 1 or B 2 .The category is B 2 exempted from EIA.
While now for category A and B 1, it is projects scoping, preparing for EIA report, public consultation, preparation of final EIA report and finally appraisal from authority.
For B 2, the project that requires appraisal has to be presented amongst the appraisal community. The process are preparation and appraisal of environmental management plan, then verification of the project being complete will be decided by the authority, after that, the authority will decide whether to grant it or to reject it.
Note: category B 2, which does not require appraisal would only have to follow last two steps that is verification and grant of permission for clearance by authority.
• Provision for appraisal against prior environmental clearance can be made to National green tribunal that was not applicable earlier.
Major difference for the cause of this chaos are :-
•It allows post facto clearance. It means that these proposals can also request clearance in violence of the environmental protection act 1986.
• Exemption of projects.
• Exemption to construction of projects up to 150,000 sq m.
With all this, we are opening the gate for more emissions. The EIA draft for 2020 is a regressive document, which needs to be seen for what it is. Enabling industries with environmental safe gaurds to go with that. It’s time to think whether it is for goodness of our nation or just to create a loophole for larger industry.