A key issue raised by the PIL:
- A key issue raised by the PIL is the lack of credibility of the EIA process, leading to reports that are often produced with the help of dubious expertise and manipulated data.
- The Supreme Court of India has disapproved the concept of post facto environmental clearances to industrial projects that initiate without a clearance.
- The environment ministry’s latest Environment Impact Assessment draft proposes a permanent mechanism for industries violating the 2006 norms by creating an opportunity for post-facto approvals.
- In most cases, the proponents also ignore the views of communities that would be displaced, and are ill-equipped to assess the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services such as clean air, water and farm productivity.
- The Centre and States must acknowledge the conflict arising from pressure on scarce land and ecosystems from polluting projects, which has already created clusters of industrial locations that, are doing badly on the CPCB’s Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index.
- The Centre is the laggardly pace at which multiple department’s process project proposals, raising transaction costs and resulting in the clamour to dispense with regulation.
Environmental Approvals in India:
- Data for March 2018 showed that 23 percent of projects in India, across all sectors, were stalled, due to the failure to obtain environmental approvals.
- Since 2015, the NDA government has given away 409 sq km forest area–twice the size of Kolkata city–to construct projects of all kinds from schools to irrigation and mining, according to the e-green watch dataset maintained by the MoEFCC and the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- Three states–Maharashtra (380), Gujarat(316) and Uttar Pradesh (153) –received highest number of project (849) of the 2,053 ECs between July 2014 and March 2020, MoEFCC analysis revealed.
Way forward: –
- There is no consensus on what a new regulator can achieve, since official policy privileges ease of doing business.
- For a national regulator to work, the government must recognise the limits to extractive growth respect a neutral body and preserve the integrity of the environment.
- EIA process, especially after the notification in 2020,has been heavily critiqued for conflicts of interest – the proponent of a project is responsible for producing the EIA report while clearances under forest, wildlife, air and water quality laws are heavily weighted in favour of promoters.
- The remedies lie in administrative reform. It is eminently feasible, for instance, to produce a whitelist of lands for industry, reclaiming polluted areas. What India cannot afford to do is further degrade its forests, rivers, wetlands and air, whose health is vital for its large population.
Define the concept of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Critically evaluate the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020.Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region.