The Delhi High Court on Tuesday extended the period for giving suggestions and objections to the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 till August 11. Among other controversial changes proposed in this draft notification, it provides for post facto approval of projects and does away with public consultation in some cases.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan passed the order after the Environment Ministry did not address the court's query regarding "ambiguity" in its decision extending time till June 30 for giving objections and suggestions to its draft EIA 2020.
The bench said it was "surprised" by "obstinacy" of the Centre with regard to not addressing the "ambiguity".
Referring to the reply filed by the Environment Ministry, the bench said, "There is not a word (in the affidavit) on the ambiguity. Your reply is silent on the main point. We are, frankly, a little surprised at the obstinacy of the central government. The government is being obdurate in this matter".
The bench also observed that "absolutely no effort has been made to address the court's query on ambiguity. Your reply is conspicuously silent about it. It amounts to not answering our query."
The court further said that it was not pleased with "this attitude" of the government and added that the process of public consultation was "not an obstacle".
"It (consultation) has some importance, it has some sanctity," the bench said.
As earlier reported it was learnt through a right to information request by an activist Vikram Tongad that Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister for Forest, Environment and Climate Change ignored his own departmentâ€™s senior bureaucrats in this matter.
Incidentally senior officials had suggested that the last day to file suggestions and objections to the draft be allowed till June 10.