Response to the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 Notification

On June 24, 2020, Common Cause submitted its response to the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment 2020 Notification to Mr. C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Our representation stated how the Draft Notification significantly dilutes the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006, and waters down several provisions of the parent legislation, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. This results in the erasure of long-standing principles of environmental jurisprudence, such as the Polluter Pays Principle, Precautionary Principle, Public Trust Doctrine and the standards set out in international conventions such as the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 and Paris Agreement, 2015. We stressed how the notification went against precedents set by the Indian courts and the National Green Tribunal. Additionally, comments on specific sections of the notification were also included and explained. Our suggestions included:  

  • Nomenclature of terms such as Projects and Strategic Projects should be clarified to explain the specific focus.
  • Requirement of Prior Environment Clearance. 
  • Public Consultation – we recommended an increase in the notice period of a public hearing from the suggested 20 days to 60 days. 
  • Not granting Post-facto EC – We emphasised our stand against granting post facto Environment Clearance as it would regularise industries which had commenced operations without valid environmental clearances. 
  • Project Exemptions for EC – We recommended that self-compliance reports be submitted every three months, instead of the stipulated 6 months. We also suggested an increment in penalties in the event of compliance failure.
  • Removal of restrictions for registering noncompliance complaints – The draft notification imposes numerous restrictions on the citizenry, regarding who is qualified to register their grievances. We suggested the removal of any condition requiring prior government approval for citizens to communicate project grievances.