Comments on the Draft EIA Notification 2020
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has proposed a new notification to supersede the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 that is currently in force. The Ministry has sought comments from the public on this draft EIA Notification 2020. Shibani Ghosh, Fellow, CPR, in her comments to the Ministry has highlighted that there is a crying need to overhaul the EIA Notification 2006 and the regulatory framework built around it – not only to address its various inherent weaknesses that have been identified over the years, but also to put in place systems and processes that respond to the steadily degrading environmental quality in the country. However, the draft EIA Notification 2020 fails to do so. According to Ghosh, in its current form, the draft Notification is legally untenable as it does not conform to its parent Act – the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, and is in the teeth of various judgments of the Supreme Court, High Courts and the National Green Tribunal. It dilutes the already weak processes of environmental impact assessment, expert scrutiny and public consultation, and wrongly condones violations and illegalities. The comments are divided into two sections. Section I discusses four specific reasons why the draft notification is legally untenable and Section II highlights five major concerns that arise from the proposed regulatory design.