BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday restrained the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change from publishing the final notification based on the draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 till the date of the next hearing.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi passed the order restraining the ministry from publishing the final notification after hearing the public interest litigation filed by the United Conservation Movement Charitable and Welfare Trust.
The ministry issued the draft EIA on March 23, 2020 inviting objections or suggestions over imposing certain restrictions and prohibition of projects like SEZ, expansion or modernisation of existing projects entailing capacity addition in any part of India. The last date for submitting objections is August 11, 2020.
The petitioner moved the court seeking directions to the ministry to give wide publicity about the draft notification in vernacular languages and also to extend the deadline fixed for receiving objections in view of pandemic.
During the hearing, the counsel of the ministry contended that they have published the draft notification in the gazette in Hindi and English and requested the respective state environment authorities and pollution control boards to take steps to give wide publicity about notification in vernacular languages. The ministry is also considering extending the deadline for receiving objections in view of COVID-19, he argued.
However, the bench said there was no change in the ministry's stand and no records were placed before the court about their request to the state authorities to give wide publicity, despite repeated opportunities given.