Parvathy urged the government to immediately withdraw the notification and found fault with the draft being released only in English and Hindi; languages that several Indians do not understand.

A file photo of Parvathy shows her standing against a wall looking into the distance with a faint smile
Flix EIA 2020 Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 12:22

Prominent actor Parvathy Thiruvothu has written to the Centre, noting down her objections to the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2020. In a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in New Delhi, Parvathy urged the government to immediately withdraw the notification, and pointed out that the draft was released only in English and Hindi; languages that several Indians do not understand.

The draft EIA notification was published by the Union Environment Ministry in March and public suggestions were invited till August 11. Critics have pointed out that several polluting activities have been given a ‘free license’ by being included in a category that protects them from mandatory public consultation. The government has defended its move saying that there was a severe need for regulation and assured that violators of environmental norms would continue to be penalised.

Since the notification had intergenerational implications, a precautionary principle should be the guiding light, she said. “Yet, when you issue this notification for public comments, and in languages that most Indians do not speak or understand, and that during the pandemic when almost all communication channels are unavailable - a time when we are most worried about our survival and of our near and dear ones (horrible times you will agree), it makes me ask: is the Ministry of Environment and Forests not concerned about the welfare of all the people of India?” Parvathy asked.

“Is the Ministry not concerned about democratically evolving laws that truly protect our environment, forests, natural resources, commons, and protect the cause of the poor and working classes? Is lawmaking a mere ritual? I ask these questions because everyone who has commented on the complexity of this notification...has held that what you have proposed is a terrible piece of law, and will most certainly destroy India’s environment and forests, and make a mockery of human rights,” she added.

Stating that a proper law to govern the environmental and social impacts of development was necessary, she sought that the present notification is withdrawn.

“To ensure we have a proper law, which guarantees fair industrialisation, infrastructure development and progress, we must develop a substantive EIA law that is within the bounds of India’s Environmental laws and particularly the Constitution of India. From all accounts, the proposed Notification fails this critical test,” Parvathy said.

Stating that people’s dignity was drawn from the love of their language, Parvathy wrote, “Which means I should be writing all this to you in Malayalam. But I am extending the courtesy of writing in a language you would understand so that you will appreciate the extraordinary distress that has been caused by the promotion of the Draft EIA Notification 2020 - published only in Hindi and English, which most people here wouldn’t know.

“Don’t you think you must extend the courtesy to the people of Kerala, and publish this draft in Malayalam, and similarly to all the people of India who speak multiple regional languages with minimum or no exposure to other ways of communication,” she asked, pointing out that this was not done, despite directives from three High Courts: Delhi, Karnataka and Madras.

Last month, actors Suriya Sivakumar and his brother Karthi had taken to social media to express their opposition to the draft notification. A statement was issued through the family-run Uzhavar foundation, which said, “The EIA 2020 draft has instilled new fears in the minds of the common man and experts alike. This endeavour will be seen as an exercise to systematically dismantle a promising future of our generation to come and this should not be heralded by a democratically elected government of our nation.”

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