EIA Notification 2020

Upon Delhi High court interventions, The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finally extended the timeline for the public to review 80-page long draft on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020. The recently released draft is created with the intention of replacing the existing EIA notification 2006. This is for the second time country will witness the change in the policy under the Environment Protection Act 1986.

Background

In the year 1972 Stockholm Declaration on Environment was signed of which India was also the one among the various signatories. Then in the year 1974 and 1981 India enacted a law to control water and air pollution respectively. In the year 1984, the Bhopal Gas leak disaster forced the nation to ponder upon the law again following which the government launched the Environment Protection Act 1986. In the Environment Protection Act 1986 itself, it was mentioned that the country will frame EIA norms which finally came into effect in the year 1994 and later modified by a draft in 2006. The EIA framework made a legal framework for regulating any activities which pollute the environment.

Difference between the existing and the new EIA norms

Many activists claim that the recently launched policy is less stringent than the previously launched environment policy in the year 2006. EIA 2020 draft if implemented is going to increase the pressure of legal paperwork while making a minimalistic change on the ground. A huge list of projects has been excluded from the view of public consultation in the new policy, some being, gas and shale exploration, offshore and onshore oil, irrigation projects, small and medium mineral beneficiation units, hydroelectric projects up to 25 MW, small foundries involving furnace units, small and medium cement plants, acids other than phosphoric or ammonia, small clinker grinding units, Sulphuric acid, micro, MSMEs in dye and dye intermediates, synthetic rubbers, bulk drugs, all inland waterway projects, medium-sized paint units, aerial ropeways in ecologically sensitive areas, specified building construction and area development projects and expansion or widening of highways between 25 km and 100 km with defined parameters. Since these activities will be carried out without oversight. There is apprehension that the exemption from EIA and public consultation for these activities will seriously affect the environment.

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