Amidst the testing times of the ongoing COVID-19, on 12th March 2020 the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released a new Environment Impact Assessment Draft (hereinafter, EIA Draft 2020) which is set to replace the 2006 EIA Policy currently in practice.
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) means a thorough evaluation of a development or industry project which in its due course is bound to make irreversible changes to the environment and the people who form direct or indirect stakeholders. The procedure of EIA is a necessary mechanism to strike the correct balance between the development (economic) needs and the conservation of environment. An EIA study guarantees the credibility of the government’s actions and makes them accountable to their people, environment and the mandatory need to maintain a balance between the two conflicting needs thereof.
The EIA norms were accepted in India for the first time in 1994 and were thereafter succeeded by the 2006 Amendment. It has been accepted worldwide that the EIA norms differ for every country and thus, they must keep evolving with the pace of the particular nation. An upgrade in the 2006 version of the EIA norms were long due but the nation was appalled that in lieu of progression, we got regression in disguise of a newly proposed EIA Draft 2020 – which if turned into the permanently accepted version of the procedure would simply act as a “rubber stamp” for the clearance of projects that are detrimental to the environment and biodiversity of India.
To make the environmental administration matters worse in India, the new EIA Draft of 2020 has come bearing more problems and no solutions or improvements. It is fairly a good news for the big corporates, industries and factories but a death sentence for the people who will be displaced, environment that would be harmed and the setback that will follow because the Draft proposes the following alarming changes:
Diminishing the scope of EIA to support “ease of doing business”: The EIA 2020 under the garb of “aim to make norms more transparent and expedient” is the promotion of the “ease of doing business” at the cost of the environment and the stakeholders.
Exemption of projects labelled “strategic”: The most contentious new provision of all is the “strategic project” or “strategic considerations” clause as it provides no grounds or conditions to determine “strategic”, rather it gives the government an ambiguous and unchecked discretion to label any project they like as per their whims and fancies as “strategic” without ever having to justify their act or being accountable to the masses.
New system of PostFacto Approval of projects: The EIA Draft 2020 enlists Forty (40) different types of industries that shall be exempted from the requirement of prior environment clearance before they begin functioning and operating. The recent judgments of the Supreme Court in relation to the environmental matters have been reiterating the importance of the mandatory prior environment clearance before inception of the operations whereas this new shift from the prior environment clearance to allowance for a post-facto environment clearance is in violation of public trust doctrine and other well established environmental law policies and principles.
Reduction of Public Consultation from 30 days to 20 days: Public Consultations are the heart and soul of an EIA study whereas, the EIA Draft 2020 has turned it into some namesake formality sans any effective meaning left to it. The projects under the label of “strategic” projects, the linear projects (i.e. roads, tunnels, highways, etc.), border area (i.e. as per clause 3(2) 100 kilometers aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India) projects among enlisted under specific category division are exempt from the process of public consultation altogether.
EIA Compliance Reports that were filed biannually are now supposed to be filed annually: The 2016 Audit proved that even in the EIA norms 2006, it was a recurrent challenge to get the developers or project promoters to make submissions of the EIA Compliance Report timely; the additional leniency of allowing the submissions of the said report annually rather than bi-annually does not seem promising.
EIA Draft 2020 observed criticism immediately after its release from all its stakeholders. The concern of the stakeholders is that if EIA Draft 2020 becomes the new policy that guides the EIA Procedure then the consequences are going to be grave and they would primarily be:
Corruption and Red-Tapism: Even though the EIA Draft 2020 is wholly inclined towards the developers and industry people but even project proponents and developers had a valid opposition as they believe the new system may easily lead to excessive bureaucracy (i.e. Red-Tapism) and in turn add on to corrupt processes.
Easy escape from violations and no accountability: Going by the literal interpretation of the EIA Draft Notification 2020, all stakeholders have rightly deduced that the new notification is pro-industry and anti- environment as well as anti-people. This extreme stance gets substantiated by the new drastic shifts to post-facto environment clearance, leniency in reporting for audit, etc. – all of this proves that the new EIA notification is just the perfect nudge in the wrong direction and shall act as hand-holding technique for industries and giant businesses to breach the law and rather than making the system “more transparent” (as claimed), it will make it opaque, unjust and shall render actions not accounted for as the new norm in the environmental jurisprudence.
Setting up legislation like “Air Act”, “Water Act” and other provisions of the EPA 1986 for failure: EIA Procedures form a part of the EPA 1986 – rather the practical and administrative part which forms the regulatory mechanism of the country to ensure the balance in this field. Altering the EIA Procedure to this extent shall harm the effect and efficiency of all other Environmental Acts and legislations as the law in theory are no good without the proper implementation of the law in theory. The EIA Draft 2020 has to power to topple all the efforts and progress made in the environmental jurisprudence so far.
India has been a founding signatory of all landmark and significant multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and treaties like Stockholm Declaration (1972) and Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992) among others. Even the World Bank’s opinion on the environmental agenda was primarily “do no harm” which then molded into “promotion of environmental sustainability” which directly implies the solution i.e. “sustainable development”. The International Environmental jurisprudence has assisted India in molding its own environmental jurisprudence. India released the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 till it ultimately uncurtained the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) in 1986. Since the inception of the development in the environmental jurisprudence of India, the principles like “Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)” and significant corollary principles like “Principle of Public Participation”, “Precautionary Principle”, “Polluter Pays Principle (PPP)” and “Public Trust Doctrine” thereunder have been recognized in theory and the practicality of the environmental matters in India. Such customary international environmental law principles formed the basic structure of the Indian Environmental Jurisprudence and thus, formed the rationale that led to justice in various famous cases of the legendary Shri. M.C. Mehta and others. Specifically, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) became popular after the Rio Declaration (Principle 17) that India inculcated in its own environmental law regime the norms for EIA Policy in 1994 under the ambit of the umbrella legislation of EPA 1986. The EIA Policy of 1994 was then substituted by the EIA Policy of 2006 which is now set to be replaced by EIA Draft of 2020.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the EIA Draft Notification of 2020 came at time of Viz Gas Leak and Baghjan Oil Well Disaster – the two most recent examples that highlighted precisely everything that can go wrong without proper EIA. Thus, the people of India are more aware of the environmental implications that a poor and loose EIA process is capable of – its ramifications will spare none. EIA Draft 2020 has received humongous criticism from the masses, and rightly so there have been NGOs, civil society people, lawyers, activists and experts who have led the ‘tweetathons’ and campaigns on social media with the now infamous #WithdrawEIA2020, #SaveEIA, #EIAforGreenIndia, among other hashtags floating around to bring to light the anti-environment and anti-public welfare EIA Draft of 2020. The Union Environment Ministry has revealed that their department has received approximately 17 lakh objections to EIA Draft 2020 notification which had a deadline upto 11th August 2020 for the submission of objections by the public. The setting of such a towering level of criticism record, the Indian masses have spoken volumes of their opposition to this EIA Draft of 2020 which is now considered anti-democratic as well. The blocking of the 3 websites namely: Let India Breathe, Fridays for Future, and There is No Earth B which were blocked on 29th June 2020 – this ban on these three forerunners thereafter acted as a catalyst to the strengthening of the citizen’s or people’s movement in India. This movement saw various student unions coming forward to write to the MoEFCC, National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) condemned the newly proposed EIA policy, along with many former bureaucrats concerting to write to the Prime Minister and the Ministry concerned (i.e. the MoEFCC).
The stakeholders, activists and the people of India have expressly shown discontent over the new EIA Draft Notification 2020 as it shall prove to be lethal for the environmental justice in India. It is cardinal for the legal and regulatory mechanisms of a successful EIA to be executed fairly, consistently and efficiently. The perception of the experts has been that EIA must deliver effectively on the promises of fair democratic political commitment (i.e. considering the interest of the tribal, environment, indigenous populations, biodiversity and other natural resources); prompt regulatory capacity (which includes institutional as well as legal regulations including the scope for advancement in technical capacity, research, data and information); and public participation (i.e. by involving the affected people’s and stakeholders genuine opinions without the malpractices of suppression of the same by muscle power or money).
Observing both sides of the coin’s debate over the EIA Draft Notification 2020, it is safe to conclude that this new notification is geared up to jeopardize the entire evolution and progression of the Indian Environmental Jurisprudence over the decades by setting it back to square one, where it all began. Hopes of all stakeholders and citizens are peaking while they await a satisfactory and progressive alteration to the EIA Draft Notification 2020 – so that, India can avoid any prospective disasters of the magnitude of “Viz Gas Leak”, “Oleum Gas Leak” or the “Bhopal Gas Tragedy” – and set a remarkable example of a smart 20th century developing country maintaining the correct balance between ecology and economy.
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Partnerships, technology and behaviour change key for agriculture growth, said Union Agriculture Minister
India has the potential to become “aatmnirbhar” in agriculture and also meet the food requirement of the world, said Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
Speaking during the session, Food for All: From Farm to Fork, during the 3rd edition of LEADS 2022—— a global thought leadership initiative of the industry chamber FICCI, the minister said the country is steadfastly moving ahead in the direction. However, everyone must work together for the goal. “We would like to collaborate. I use this opportunity to invite the international community to join hands with us for the benefit of coming generations,” he said.
He noted that country’s agri exports had crossed the milestone of ₹4 lakh crores. “We are working to increase it further,” he said.
Minister Tomar said that the government is constantly working to make the country “aatmnirbhar”. As a result, Indian agriculture recorded a robust growth of 3.9% despite the pandemic. In addition, the minister reiterated that the government aims to make Indian agriculture internationally competitive by aiding the small farmers in the country. He alluded to several government programmes to reduce farming-related challenges. “Due to increase in investment in basic infrastructures like irrigation system, storage, warehousing, and cold storage, the Indian agriculture is expected to record robust growth in the coming years,” he added.
On occasion, H.E. Mr Damien O’Connor, Hon’ble Minister for Trade & Export Growth; Agriculture; Biosecurity; Land Information & Rural Communities, New Zealand, alluded to the challenge emanating from climate change. “agricultural emissions from livestock are a real challenge for New Zealand and food systems around the world. It contributes 35% to the global greenhouse gas emissions and 48% to New Zealand’s emission profile.”
He also alluded to Global Research Alliance and encouraged Indian parliamentarians “to look at investigating partnering up with a Global Research Alliance” to gather global technologies “in a way that is not seeking to maximise commercial benefit but to maximise the climate change benefit from this collaboration.”
Sanjiv Mehta, President, FICCI and CEO & Managing Director, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), said achieving food and nutrition security is a multifaceted challenge. “Food systems can play a big role in protecting food security and nutrition if careful attention is paid to targeting the poor, reducing inequalities, including gender inequality and incorporating nutrition goals and actions were relevant.”
Dr Anish Shah, Vice President, FICCI and Managing Director and CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra, said the world will have 10 billion people by 2050. “Today, we do not have enough food to provide for everyone, so we have to do a number of things to feed everyone.” He pointed to three themes that can help address the challenge. The first is partnerships to reduce carbon footprint and improve productivity. Second, adopting technology to transform agriculture and thirdly, inducing behaviour change.
Sunny Verghese, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Olam International, said, the biggest priority is to help decarbonise.
Digital Agriculture Mission to digitalise the farmer: Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Agriculture
Contextual and correct information to anybody associated with agriculture has the potential to unlock a lot of value, said Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, at the Release Ceremony of the FICCI compendium on “Enhancing Farmers’ Income”.
In this regard, Ahuja alluded to the Digital Agriculture Mission, which essentially tries to digitalise the farmer in terms of identity, linking up the farmers’ land and geo-referencing it, and crops grown. “These are some of the basic things we are trying to put in the agristack,” he said. “We have made some headway; hopefully, next year, we should show substantial results,” he added.
Ahuja said, “I’m seeing the benefits information contextualised to the various partners in the agricultural ecosystem can bring”.
On occasion, Samuel Praveen Kumar, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, spoke on backstopping agriculture startups that are coming up with innovative technologies and solutions to enhance farm incomes. In this regard, Mr Kumar alluded to the three C’s— convergence, capacity building, and collectives like (FPOs and cooperatives) as the vital elements.
Elaborating on convergence, Kumar said, “if the government can package the schemes in such a manner that you give more benefits, in a unified manner to the businesses or startups, I think they will be able to sustain their business.” Similarly, on capacity building, he noted, “when we talk about capacity building for farmers or extension workers, it’s not like that. It is for everybody in the ecosystem.” Mr Kumar also alluded to developing climate-resistant crops, reducing carbon footprints using technology, and developing infrastructure.
Elaborating on the compendium, TR Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & Group President, TAFE, noted the need to document the best practices and give them to people so that “people can touch, feel, do and understand the practices.” He added, “small and marginal farmers are going to be one of the greatest strengths of the country. Some of the case studies in the compendium tell how they are changing.”
The FICCI compendium of guidelines presents select case studies, and successful projects and interventions rolled out by various organisations in achieving higher crop connectivity, resource use efficiency, cropping intensity and diversification towards high-value agriculture.
Supreme Court: An Order Is In Given Factual Circumstances; Judgement Lays Down Principles Of Law
The Supreme Court in the case Akil Valibhai Piplodwala observed and has issued a notice on a petition filed by a man seeking a direction that he should not be deported to Pakistan until his claim to be an Indian citizen is decided as per Section 9(2) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The bench comprising of Justice Surya Kant and the Justice J. B. Pardiwala observed and has also issued status quo in the matter. Thus, the notice on the plea has been issued to the District Superintendent of Police (Godhra), State of Gujarat and the Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India.
According to the plea, the was born at Godhra, Gujarat in 1962 and had completed his education in India. The petitioner moved to Pakistan in 1976 but in 1983 he returned to India and got married at Godhra to an Indian woman on 2nd March 1984 and had three children from the wedlock. Thus, the petitioner again went away and finally returned to India in 1991 after obtaining all the requisite permits including a residential permit and continued to reside in India with his family.
However, out of fear of getting deported, the petitioner moved a regular civil suit before the Court of Civil Judge praying to declare him a citizen of India under Section5(1)(C) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 since he was married to an Indian citizen. It is also prayed by him to restrict authorities from deporting him till his application under Section 9(2) of the Act is decided by the Union of India. In 1999, it was held by the Civil Judge that the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the citizenship of the Petitioner. However, the decree was allowed by the Civil Judge partly to direct that he should not be deported back until his application under the Citizenship Act is decided.
Further, after the period of 4 years, the Union of India preferred a delayed appeal under Section 96 of CrPC against the order of the Civil Judge before the Principal District Judge. On 12.07.2022, the District Judge set aside the decree passed by the Civil Judge.
The petitioner being aggrieved by the order of the District Judge, moved the High Court of Gujarat. On 02.08.2022, the High Court dismissed his appeal holding that no substantial question of law arose.
Senior Advocate IH Sayed, appearing for the petitioner submitted that the High Court disregarded the fact that the Petitioner has been rendered vulnerable to deportation and if he is not protected till his application is adjudicated upon it would be violation of the procedure established by the principle of law.
The present petition was filed through Advocate Taruna Singh Gohil.
Delhi HC Asks Centre: What Is The Procedure For Undertrial Foreign Nationals’ Visa Renewal?
The Delhi High Court in the case Uchenne v. State observed and has directed the Centre to place on record the necessary steps and procedures required to be followed by foreign nationals, who are in the jail as undertrials, for renewal of their visas.
The bench comprising of Justice Jasmeet Singh observed while dealing with a plea filed by a foreign national seeking bail in an NDPS case, said there are many foreign nationals lodged in the national capital’s prisons, whose visa applications have not been processed.
The court stated that he i.e., the Central Govt Counsel shall also place on record necessary steps and procedures so that foreign nationals who are in jail as undertrial know the procedure for renewal of their visas. The Uchenne, accused had moved the High Court last year wherein seeking regular bail in an FIR registered under Section 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Thus, after the completion of investigation, charge-sheet was filed under Section 21 of the NDPS Act as well as Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
It was observed that Section 21 of the NDPS Act states punishment for contravention in relation to manufactured drugs and preparation, Section 14 of Foreigners Act provides various penalties under the statute, in case of violation of any of the provisions.
The Additional Public Prosecutor on March 30, told the court that before proceeding with the bail matter, accused’s visa needs to be re-validated. The Advocate J.S. Kushwaha appearing for the foreign national submitted before the Court that although his passport was renewed, he is required to be taken to the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for visa renewal on April 29.
Accordingly, it has been directed by the court to Uchenne to complete all procedural formalities and ordered that he be taken to the FRRO in accordance with law and established procedures.
On August 2, over three months, Uchenne’s counsel apprised the Court that despite earlier orders, his visa was neither renewed nor any reasons were given regarding the delay or rejection. Also, the court was informed that Uchenne had applied for visa on January 28, in 2019.
However, during the recent hearing on September 19, it was sought by the Centre’s counsel seeking further time to get instructions in writing from FRRO before the next date of hearing.
Accordingly, the court listed the matter for hearing next on October 10.
“Indian Pharma aspires to reach 400 billion dollars by 2047,” MoS of Chemical and Fertilizer
To commemorate the 100 years of independence, the Central government has begun working on a vision plan for a ‘future-ready India’. In this context Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised the 4th Life Sciences Conclave with the theme “Roadmap for Indian Life Sciences @ 2047”. A white paper released by CII on the Way Forward for lifesciences. To achieve the biggest milestones in the lifesciences and Pharmaceutical sectors over the next 25 years, India needs to focus on four strategies; Innovation & Commercialisation, Sustainable Production, Internationalisation and create a Business Environment and develop the lifesciences infrastructure and regulatory frameworks for ease of doing business.
Speaking at the virtual platform, Bhagwanth Khuba, MoS Chemical & Fertiliser and Ministry of New and Renewable energy, said in his message“ The Indian pharmaceuticals market has characteristics that make it unique. . India plays an important role in manufacturing various critical, high‐ quality and low‐cost medicines for Indian and global markets. The industry has contributed immensely not just to Indian but to global healthcare outcomes. The sector forms a major component of the country’s foreign trade as well, with attractive avenues and opportunities for investors. The outbreak of the COVID-19 brought out the risk of disruption of supply chain of critical bulk drugs for the Indian pharmaceutical sector, highlighting the need for India to attain a sufficient degree of self-reliance in bulk drugs. In this regard the Department of Pharmaceuticals prepared two schemes for promoting domestic manufacturing of critical KSMs/ Drug Intermediates and APIs by attracting investments in the sector to ensure their sustainable domestic supply and thereby reduce India’s import dependence on other countries for critical KSMs/Drug Intermediates and APIs.”
S Aparna, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said, “ Showed three important routes to bring mainstream of lifesciences research that are biosimilars and RNA vaccines, stem cell and gene therapy and ability to bring natural products.
Inclusion, Innovation and Integration are the key words
Dr V.K Saraswat, Member, NITI, Aayog said, that the emerging important areas are genome sequencing, DNA splicing, CRISPR CRAS are the fastest growing domains. With development of nano robotics, transgenic free varieties of GM food will be common entity in future. Agriculture scientists will develop edible vaccines. Precision agriculture, genome engineering will help in innovative technology. Early intervention and better prognosis of diseases will drive the lifesciences sector. Another field emerging is tissue engineering in generating artificial organs. India needs to secure rich biological wealth. Lifesciences is an important part of healthcare and projected to touch 150 billion dollar by 2025. Some of the initiatives have taken place in the last decade has broadened the scope. Investment is key. Private equity firms are going to bolster new areas. Sustaining position in novel vaccine, reducing morbidity and mortality. Ethical policy development and venture technologies are important areas
Vivek Kamath, Co-Chairman CII National Committee on Pharmaceuticals & Managing Director Abbott India Ltd, said, “ Healthcare is one of the priority sectors for 2047. Government through various policies and schemes are encouraging of an efficient lifesciences sector. The covid affected the healthcare sector but gave opportunity for the industry to transform. One key word that came up during the pandemic was ‘collaboration’ that helped in combatting the pandemic. Collaboration can become a burning desire
Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, mentioned, “ We are in the 75th year of independence and the theme of the conclave resonates very well with what the industry has to achieve. All around the globe 20% of generic medicines are made in India. Aspiration is to reach 400 billion dollars by 2047. One area where we are aspiring to be demonstrating capability is in innovation. Need to disrupt existing ways. There is immense opportunity in expanding the entire lifesciences biosimilars innovation. Success eludes us. We have the ability for new drug discovery as well as achieve discovery of newer molecules. For this adequate funding and investments are required as well as tax rebates for R&D. Also there is a need for industry academia collaboration for translational research.
Dr Renu Swarup said “Moving to the next 25 years we need to leverage on the opportunities we have built for ourselves but cannot be based on an incremental increase of what we have done. We have to keep up with the pace of technology. Collaborations are the key to success and there need to be convergence in research.”
At the platform CII and Cadila Pharma launch joint national campaign for rabies-free India by 2030. As a part of the campaign to make India rabies-free by 2030, several activities for awareness and prevention of rabies will be undertaken at the national and state level under the aegis of the government of India.
By 2047 we will see the beginning of a demographic, epidemiological and environmental shifts so we should be ready with Lifecourse immunisation.- UNICEF.
Top opposition leaders gather at INLD rally to challenge ‘Delhi Sultanate’
Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, Sitaram Yechury, and Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, were among the prominent opposition figures that attended the INLD’s large gathering on Sunday in Fatehabad, Haryana.
JDU leader KC Tyagi addressed the crowd and claimed that the Bihar CM has come from Patna to challenge the Delhi Sultanate at a time when eight former Congress CMs had switched to the BJP. He claimed that Kumar has no fear of the ED, the income tax, or any other organisations.
To commemorate the birth anniversary of Devi Lal, the founder of the INLD and a former deputy prime minister, a rally is being conducted.
Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and the head of the RJD, as well as Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena, also showed up at the gathering to demonstrate the unity of the opposition.
The coming together of so many regional satraps is seen as part of efforts to forge opposition unity. Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad are likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi after the rally to take the process forward.
Veteran socialist leader Tyagi had already declared that the gathering would be historic because it would unite like-minded forces against the BJP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
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