BENGALURU: City-based environmentalists have strongly objected to the draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020, saying it dilutes many of the protections given to the environment in the EIA notification of 2006.The United Conservation Movement has submitted its response to the union government, which had sought responses from the public when the draft notification was released in March. It has sought the removal of 22 provisions and instead offered 30 suggestions for inclusion.
UCM members said public consultation should be mandatory instead of optional as the draft notification proposes. They were also strongly opposed to ex-post facto (clearances with retrospective effect), which the Supreme Court had struck down in the Alembic Pharmaceuticals Private Limited Vs Rohit Prajapati and others case.
They also said industries should continue to be classified in terms of red, orange and green, based on their pollution levels (the most polluting industries come under the red category). The draft seeks to replace this classification with categories A (which would include more polluting industries), while industries which pollute less would be classified under B1 or B2, and require fewer clearances. However, UCM pointed out that some highly polluting industries such as acid manufacturing and chemical processing had been moved to B1 or B2 with no explanation. The draft notification seeks to exempt around 40 types of industries, currently classified as red, from obtaining prior environmental clearance.
Other dilutions include permitting red and orange category industries to operate as close as 5km from protected areas (PA), from the 10km distance specified by the of the 2006 EIA.The draft also seeks to increase the validity of environmental clearance (EC) for mining from 30 years to 50, and for river valley, irrigation and nuclear projects from 10 years to 15, and for all other projects from five years to 10. Stating that environmental protection cannot be diluted or compromised for ease of doing business, UCM said, “Priority should be on protecting of environment.” They also demanded that Section 26 of the draft notification which allows for EIA exemption be scrapped.