Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor
Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor

'Should be scrutinised thoroughly': Tharoor calls for withdrawal of EIA 2020 in its present form

ANI | Updated: Aug 12, 2020 05:44 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug 12 (ANI): Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has urged the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to immediately withdraw the proposed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) draft in its current form till it is possible to widely deliberate and consult on its proposals.
"As experts have pointed out, the timing of the release of the recent draft EIA notification is questionable. Such a pivotal framework should be scrutinised thoroughly, including through wider public stakeholder consultation. In this case, the draft has been released at a time of COVID-19 pandemic," Tharoor said in a letter addressed to Javadekar.
"The current draft has a number of contentious clauses that raise major concerns. These include post-facto approval for projects, wherein the environmental assessment will be looked at only following the approval of the project, an ambiguous list of projects that will be exempt from any scrutiny along with limited information on the same in the public domain and the exemption of projects regarding inland waterways and national highways, among others," he added.
Tharoor warned that the recent environmental disasters in some of the states of the country have undermined the environmental scrutiny.
"As we have seen recently in Kerala, Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra, our environmental scrutiny has been undermined through calamitous natural events, exacerbated by man-made factors. We have collectively witnessed the severity of these events and the devastation it has caused among local communities," he said.
Meanwhile, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh reiterated his disapproval of the draft EIA notification in a letter addressed to Javadekar.
"I am compelled to say that you are misrepresenting the implications of the Draft EIA Notification, 2020, on our country's environmental regulatory framework and its impact on the environment," Ramesh said.

"The notification is fundamentally flawed and makes a mockery of the prime minister's many statements on the need to protect the environment and India's leadership in this regard," he added.
Ramesh further asked how can a subordinate legislation override the parent Act from which it is derived like the Draft EIA Notification 2020 does vis-a-vis the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Earlier, Javadekar on August 6 issued a point by point rebuttal to Ramesh's objections on the Draft EIA Notification 2020 and termed the "publicity" of his letter as "premature".
He asserted that the final notification has not been issued and the draft notification is still open for public consultation for more than 120 days.
In his letter, Javadekar said he had taken note of Ramesh's suggestions and objections to the draft EIA notification 2020 and these along with other suggestions and objections received from stakeholders will be considered on merit before finalizing the notification.
He said that Ramesh's point that the "Government intends to give ex-post facto approval to the cases involving violation" is absolutely wrong connotation because Environment Clearance (EC), which will be issued is prospective in nature, and previous actions resulting in violation will be made liable to stringent penal action as per the statutory provisions.
"The main purpose of this provision is to bring all violators under the regulatory regime by imposing a heavy penalty. You will also agree that we should not allow such companies in perpetual unregulated status. When I looked back to the records, it was noticed that previously such violators were allowed to regularise on a permanent basis via Office Memorandum (OM) issued in 2010," the letter said. (ANI)