The Karnataka High Court on Thursday warned the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Draft 2020 would be stayed if steps were not taken to publicise it widely. The high court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by United Conservation Movement, which sought a stay against the draft EIA.
Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Abhay Sreenivas Oka came down heavily upon the Union government for not taking positive steps towards giving wide publicity to the draft EIA 2020 notification in all regional languages.
The proposed EIA 2020 is advocated to fast track environmental clearance, which will allow industrial and infrastructural projects to begin construction activities at the cost of forest areas.
The counsel representing the MoEFCC submitted to the court that the department had complied with the courtâ€™s order and had received four lakh objections to the draft EIA 2020 so far.
â€śThe notification itself was not in consonance with public interest and if steps are not taken to give wide publicity to the present notification, the court would stay the notification itself,â€ť Justice Oka observed.
The Central Government advocate requested the high court for more time to obtain instructions from the MoEFCC. The matter has been listed for hearing on July 23.
One of the most controversial aspects of this new notification is to do away with the mandatory process of public consultation for a wide range of projects.
The EIA draft also states that more than 25 red and orange industries will be moved from Category A (which needs expert appraisal) to Category B1 or B2, which requires lesser EIA processes. These industries, including chemical processing and acid manufacturing, will be brought under Category B2, which doesn't need public consultation, TNM had earlier reported.
The draft EIA 2020 also allows certain industries to commence operations and then obtain environmental clearance.