NEW DELHI: To push a new set of environment clearance rules, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar decided to overrule suggestion by a senior ministry official to extend timeframe for inviting public comments by six months.
Instead, Javadekar decided that the draft of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification brought by the ministry on March 23 will only be open for comments for three months till June 30, according to an RTI response.
The draft has received wide criticism and over 4,000 representations. Even former environment minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to Javadekar seeking extension of deadline for public comments and proper discussion as the rule seeks to dilute key green norms
The file notings show that Geeta Menon, joint secretary, MoEFCC, wrote to Javadekar that “Since the EIA notification and any change thereto is of great significance to the management of environment in the country as a whole and to the matters of access and utilisation of natural resources and it is suggested that we may extend the time frame to a total of 180 days from the time of issue on March 23.” “The stand of the minister shows that he is in a hurry in this matter. After all, why is he rushing his anti-environment draft?” asked Vikrant Tongad, who filed the RTI.
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The new green clearance rules include controversial provisions of bypassing public hearing for infrastructure projects and allowing projects without mandatory green clearance. Tongad has moved Delhi HC for extension of time for inviting public comments. The matter is listed for hearing on Friday.