Protests are intensifying against the announcement of the new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA 2020) by the Central Government. As the time for public comment against the notification comes to an end tomorrow (August 11), a strong online campaign is underway in Kerala.
The new notification is a further relaxation of existing environmental laws at a time when natural disasters and industrial hazards are on the rise. An online campaign is being led by the youth against this. Tuesday, August 11 is the last day for people to complain about the new draft repeal of the 2016 notification.
According to the Environmental Protection Act, which came into force in 1986 after the Bhopal disaster in 1984, any individual or entity is required to study and approve a committee of experts to start environmentally friendly projects such as factories, mines and quarries. However, according to EIA 2020, this evaluation study is not required before the project starts.
What is EIA 2020?
Marine and land exploration, natural gas exploration, hydropower projects of less than 25 MW, small and medium mineral mines, small furnace units, small cement factories, and acid-dyeing factories and development of 25-100 km of national highways were excluded from the notification.
According to the new notification, no environmental permit is required for mining up to five acres. Buildings up to 1,50,000 square meters can be given an environmental permit without any study or evidence. It should also be noted that this was earlier the location of 20,000 square meters. Most notably in the notification, the new provision stipulates that the investment should also be considered if the projects were previously classified only on the basis of environmental impact.
In addition, if the environmental permit is not issued within fifteen days of application, the permit will be deemed to have been obtained. Moreover, the provision for people to complain about the environmental pollution of the projects has been removed. The notification also said that people should not be given any information about the projects related to national security.
The notification omits the requirement for prior approval of the National Wildlife Board for major projects. The approval for a project has been increased from five years to ten years in the new notification. The law was to extend the term only if there were no violations after evaluating the current five years of operation. The period for mining coal and iron ore has been increased from thirty to fifty years. The notification contains provisions that threaten its very existence. Protests against this are growing stronger. The campaign to send a message to the Union Ministry of Environment asking for the notification to be withdrawn and canceled is also strong.