The union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MOEFCC) had designated an email ID for the people to send in their comments and feedback on the draft EIA 2020.

Draft EIA 2020: Several users complain of comment emails sent to ministry being returnedWiki Commons/VIJAY SUNDARARAMAN IYER / CC BY-SA 4.0
news EIA 2020 Monday, August 10, 2020 - 19:08

With just a day remaining to send in comments and feedback on the draft of Environmental Impact Assessment 2020 (EIA 2020), several users have complained that their emails are returning due to an ‘invalid recipient address’. The emails sent to the official address provided by the union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) eia2020-moefcc@gov.in are bouncing back to the senders, many users took to social media to allege.

The Union government through the MOEFCC introduced a draft of the EIA 2020 in March, which proposed numerous changes to the existing EIA rules. The draft was circulated in Hindi and English and comments were invited from the public on the draft. The deadline to send in comments and feedback was extended to August 11, 2020 after the Delhi High Court slammed the Centre for not providing enough time for the general public to respond. 

‘Emails bouncing back’

Several users on social media pointed out that the emails sent on the ID provided by the MOEFCC in the draft document have returned to the senders. “Your message wasn’t delivered to eia2020-moefcc@gov.in because the address couldn’t be found or is unable to receive email,” the error message stated. 

Users also pointed out that this has been a recurring problem for the past three to four days. 

When TNM tried to send a mail to the said email address, it returned with a similar notification. TNM also tried sending emails to Prakash Javadekar, the union minister for environment, forest and climate change, it returned (mefcc@gov.in). Emails sent to his personal secretary KM Mahesh also returned (mahesh.png@gov.in). 

Speaking to TNM, G Sundarrajan, Environmentalist from the NGO Poovulagu called it an ‘anti-people action.’ 

“There are two ways to see this. One is that the email address is configured in a way to not accept submissions and the other is that there is a technical glitch related to the email inbox, which is yet to be rectified. Either way, it is inappropriate and anti-people. It is the relevant authority’s responsibility to ensure that the submissions are received in the designated email address once they invite feedback. Not doing so is certainly anti-people,” he said. 

Echoing similar sentiments, Kanchi Kohli, a senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, said that the ministry should come out with a clarification. “Given that a grievance has been raised on social media by the people, the ministry has to come out and issue a clarification if it has the intention to receive as many responses as possible,” she said. 

Commenting on the refusal by the Ministry to release the draft in 22 official languages of the country, she added that the government owes it to the people of the country. “The ministry should be responding to a popular sentiment rather than a court order. It is a demand across the country that the EIA 2020 draft must be spoken and deliberated upon. So I think the ministry should be prudent and release the translated version of the draft in all official languages,” she explained. 

In July, the Delhi police had issued notice to an NGO, Fridays For Future (FFF), under sections of the Information technology Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), stating that their website had content that was dangerous to the peace and sovereignty of the country. The notice reportedly came after Prakash Javadekar complained about the hundreds of emails being received in his inbox with the subject ‘EIA 2020’. 

However, the police revoked the notice which had invoked provisions of UAPA by calling it ‘clerical error’ and reissued a notice under certain sections of the IT Act. 

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