The draft of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 caused massive outrage for its alleged attempts to dilute the existing environmental laws.

EIA 2020 central government ordered to respond why it has not released the draft in regional languages by high courtWiki Commons/ Vijay Sundararaman Iyer / CC BY-SA 4.0
news Court Thursday, August 06, 2020 - 14:53

The Madras High Court, on Thursday issued a notice to the Government of India in a case that sought a stay on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020. The union government had released the draft EIA 2020 in March this year and invited public comments on it. The court was hearing a petition filed by a fishermen’s welfare association which sought a stay. The petition said that it was not correct to seek public comments without releasing the draft document in regional languages.

The petition sought a court order to direct the union government to release the draft in regional languages.

A bench comprising Justices MM Sundresh and R Hemalatha pointed out that a similar case is pending in the Karnataka High Court and refused to order a stay on the draft. Further, the court posted the case to Friday for further hearing and ordered the central government to respond to the claims in the petition.

The draft EIA 2020 sparked massive outrage, especially among environmental experts and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), who flagged clauses that were likely to dilute the existing law. Clauses around the time provided to local communities and stakeholders to furnish responses during the public consultation processes, dilution in the requirement for a prior environmental clearance for developmental and industrial projects and extension in the lease duration for several serious projects like mining have prompted experts and several prominent personalities to raise questions around the intention of the draft EIA 2020. Many of them have also urged the public to send their comments to the union government before the deadline.

On June 30, the Delhi High Court had extended the deadline provided by the centre to August 11 and had also directed the central government to publish the draft EIA 2020 in 22 official languages of the country.

It had remarked that a translated version of the draft must be made available to people across the country in their regional languages since the law had the potential to affect all their lives. The court had also directed that the translated versions be published within 10 days of the order. The central government, as of Thursday, is yet to make the translated versions available to the public. 

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