Environmental activist questions Kerala government’s silence on EIA 2020 draft notification
Thrissur: Environmental activists have opposed the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 draft notification issued by the central government which is raising concerns.
The time limit for the public to express their complaints and disagreements with the new draft, which was issued cancelling the notification of 2016, ends on Tuesday.
On Monday, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi said that the draft notification was clear loot of the nation.
At present, state governments have the authority to appoint expert committees to study the feasibility of projects and their impact on the environment. But this has been removed in the new EIA draft. Yet most state governments are remaining silent.
In this context, N. Badusha, president, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samithi questioned the silence from the Kerala government in this regard. Speaking to mathrubhumi.com, he alleged that the government’s silence was criminal negligence.
Badusha had spearheaded many protests against projects that threatened the environment. He had accompanied Dr. Madhav Gadgil when the noted ecologist visited Puthumala landslide site in 2019.
We are all struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the state government could have easily appointed an expert committee to study the new EIA draft notification. It’s very clear that the new draft will destroy the biodiversity in Kerala and other states, Badusha added.
The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the new EIA draft and has demanded that the central government must go back on it, he said. There are cases in the Madras HC and Karnataka HC seeking the draft translated into regional languages, he added.
In Badusha’s opinion, the relaxations in public hearing are the worst part of the EIA 2020 draft.
Public hearing is a process in which stakeholders can interact directly with government officials and the project proponent about the concerns regarding an upcoming project. In this way people can express their objections and opinions and offer suggestions on a proposed undertaking in order to influence the decision-making process.
The environmental impact of a project will be different at different places. Nobody knows it better than the people who belong to the area. If public hearing is omitted, the most valuable inputs on the environmental impact of a project will never be heard, he said.
“We saw what happened in the Visakhapatnam gas leak and Assam gas and oil leak which claimed several lives and injured over 1,000 people. The Environment Protection Act and Environment Impact Assessment were the only hope for the common man to prevent such incidents from happening in the future and to bring wrongdoers to justice. If the new draft comes into effect, there will be a situation where anyone with financial power can start any project anywhere,” said Badusha.