NEW DELHI: Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday rejected charges levelled by senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh that environment laws will be diluted by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification.
Javadekar dismissed the allegation during a special mention in Rajya Sabha.
"As far as public hearing is concerned, we have exempted two new categories (under the EIA)," the minister said.
The draft EIA notification, which involves the procedure of issuing environmental clearances to various projects, was issued by the ministry in March this year and public suggestions were invited.
Ramesh termed the notification "anti-democratic" and dangerous.
"I urge the government to resist the temptation of using this crisis as an opportunity to weaken environmental laws and put this draft notification (EIA) in complete cold storage," he said.
"During the lockdown period, there was a concerted attempt to issue this notification, but it has been held back because of the public protest and concerns," the Congress leader said.
Ramesh said the draft notification was dangerous on four grounds.
"It is anti-democratic because it reduces the role of the public and does away with any assessment by local impacted communities. Secondly, it is anti-public health because it is giving away the right for environmental impact assessment. It is regularising environmental violations," he said.
"It is anti-federalism because it is taking away the power of the states and centralising everything. Finally, it is anti-jurisprudence because the notification exceeds the mother Act (law) of the Environment Protection Act," Ramesh added.
Senior Congress leader P L Punia demanded that the central government should revoke the changes made by the states in the labour laws during the pandemic.
While DMK leader P Wilson called for a uniform examination for admission to medical courses, the YSRCP's Pilli Subhas Chandra Bose demanded a census of backward communities and a dedicated ministry to deal with issues related to them.
Harnath Singh Yadav of the BJP called for a strict law to deal with the issue of rising population in the country, and Phulo Devi of the Congress demanded inclusion of Chhattisgarhi Bhasha into the Constitutional list of languages.