NEW DELHI: Expressing concerns that the process of green clearance during the lockdown lacks the credibility and rigour of its purpose and is being reduced to an “empty formality”, a group of 291 conservation scientists and environmentalists has approached the Centre saying such clearances should be on hold till travel restrictions are lifted.
The group, including 12 former members of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), stressed that reliance on only digital documents uploaded by project developers on the Parivesh single-window clearance portal leads to “fait accompli situations” and gravely compromises the appraisals by the committees.
In a letter to environment minister Prakash Javadekar, the group said video calls were not an efficient mode to assess the environmental, livelihood and biodiversity impacts of projects.
They mentioned that under normal circumstances, the Expert Appraisal Committee meetings last an entire day, but meetings during the lockdown have lasted only two hours, with only 10 minutes to appraise each project. Urging Javadekar to keep implementation of decisions taken by the NBWL via video conferencing in abeyance until restrictions are lifted to allow in-person meetings and travel to project sites for fresh appraisals following due process.