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EIA Draft Notification 2020: A brief analysis

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.

Abhinav Narayan Jha & Jahnavi Taneja

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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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Policy & Politics

Textiles sector poised for a $100 bn export: Vikram Jardosh, MoS for Textiles

Industry should take full advantage full advantage of the global market shifts: Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.

Tarun Nangia

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The Government has set a strong aspirational goal of achieving $100 billion from textiles exports in thenext 5 years and we will remain committed to ensure implementation of all development schemes and bring in many more schemes in pursuit of this aspiration, said Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Government has already announced MITRA scheme to attract new investments and build mega textile parks in the country. Other significant programs including the launch of PLI scheme for achieving manufacturing excellence and RoDTEP for enhancing export competitiveness will help India to position it as a global leader in the sector.

The Minister was speaking at the inauguration of TEXCON: The 13th edition of the International Conference on Textiles & Apparel organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry today. A specialCII-Kearney report was also released on “Creating a competitive advantage for India in the global textiles and apparel industry”. The report covers the entire textile value chain and highlights the imperatives for both government and industry to bring global positioning for the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles said that the Government is making all efforts to proactively address the challenges and facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for the growth and development of the Textiles and Apparel sector. “We are capable to meet the domestic as well as the global market demands. I would like to urge the industry to take full advantage of the present global market shifts in establishing the excellence and prominence of India globally.”

Dilip Gaur, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group said, achieving breakthrough growth in Indian textiles will imply doubling down on multiple areas. The key ones include increasing share in MMF fiber and yarn, become regional leaders in apparel and fabrics and further augmenting India’s position as global home textiles leader. “Government of India has already shown strong commitment to this sector by launching multiple mega schemes in recent times which set a very positive tone for the future and to energize all industry stakeholders to take necessary steps forward in achieving the goals”, he added.

Kulin Lalbhai, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Executive Director, Arvind Ltd said, “The growing sentiment around “China plus one” sourcing is a golden opportunity for Indian textiles to stage a turnaround and gain back its leadership position as a lead exporting economy.” India is much better placed to maximize this opportunity as compared to competitors like Vietnam and Bangladesh because of India’s strategic depth.

Dilip Gaur, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group said, achieving breakthrough growth in Indian textiles will imply doubling down on multiple areas. The key ones include increasing share in MMF fiber and yarn, become regional leaders in apparel and fabrics.

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Piyush Goyal calls for free trade within rules-based multilateral trading system

We must work to resolve issues posed by Non-Tariff Barriers in international trade: Piyush Goyal.

Tarun Nangia

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The Minister of Commerce and Industries, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyaltoday called for free trade within a rules-based multilateral trading system with honesty and transparency as core values. He added that wherever India faces an unfair or unjust treatment, it will take reciprocal action. Shri Goyal also emphasized upon the need for resolution of issues posed by Non- Tariff Barriers in international trade. He was addressing the 54th Convocation of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in New Delhi today.

Referring to India’s recent achievement of 100 crore vaccines, he said that the milestone was the result a collective effort of 130 crore Indians and a proof of India’s ‘Atmanirbhartha’ and its resolve to leverage its capacities to the best possible extent and to serve the needs of the entire world.

Piyush Goyal said that a convocation is an important ceremony that marks the next step in the journey of the graduates when they grow from ‘acquisition of knowledge’ to ‘application of knowledge’.

He commended IIFT for contributing immensely to India’s external trade since its establishment in 1963. He said that IIFT has been widely recognized for its strong knowledge &resource base and has been consistently ranked amongst theleading business schools in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Underscoring the need for a committed and vibrant leadership in the field of academics in India, Shri Piyush Goyal called for enhancing exposure of our students to the best of technology, foreign law, economics, and international trade. Calling for tie-ups of Indian Universities with institutions of eminence across the world, he asked Indian universities to enter into sustained collaborations with such institutions.

Encouraging academic institutions to engage on a much larger scale with the industry, Shri Goyal asked students to take up internships with both the public sector and private players. Speaking of the opportunities offered by online education, Shri Goyal called for more exploration into online and hybrid modes of education.

Piyush Goyal told the students that they were graduating amidst one of the most disruptive events in the collective memory of our times. He emphasized that in the post-COVID ‘New Normal’, we can no longer play by the old rules. He called for using the disruptive interventions brought about by COVID to reorient our conventional, traditional thinking processes. Offering two cents from his versatile experience in foreign trade, Shri Goyal urged the students to ‘Learn, Unlearn, Relearn and Repeat’.

Piyush Goyal said that despite challenges, India under PM Modi has aimed to convert a crisis into an opportunity for transformation. He said that India is being looked upon as a trusted partner & we are engaging with like-minded nations e.g. EU, UK, Canada, Australia & UAE for early conclusion of FTAs.

Referring to India’s ambitious programmes like the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan for infrastructure and multimodal connectivity, Shri Goyal said that there was a need for planned, focussed efforts to create infrastructure in the country by breaking silos and bringing in synergy. “There is a need to bring in quality and productivity in all we do. A ‘Made in India’ product must be a guarantee to the world”, he added.

Applauding the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visionary leadership, Goyal said that India’s decisive leadership, strong industry, vibrant media and its resolve to uphold the rule of law, had made India a trusted partner to world nations.

Lamenting that India had suffered from several missed opportunities in the past, Shri Goyal expressed the hope that we would now be able to seize every opportunity available to us to grow. “The past is a stepping stone, not a milestone”, he added.

Observing that contemporary India was confident & yet dissatisfied, he said that dissatisfied, confident people are the ones who would change the world. He urged fellow Indians to never settle for less and to work together to make India a global leader.

On the occasion, Shri Goyal presented several awards for excellence to graduating students.

Encouraging academic institutions to engage on a much larger scale with the industry, Shri Goyal asked students to take up internships with both the public sector and private players. Speaking of the opportunities offered by online education, Shri Goyal called for more exploration into online and hybrid modes of education.

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Builder hardware products from India have considerable global demand, says Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash

Tarun Nangia

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Builder hardware industry is linked to the construction equipment industry where the revenue was valued at US$ 6.5 billion in 2020 and construction market is expected to be the third largest globally by 2025: MSME Secretary B B Swain

India is the 17th largest supplier of builder hardware products and is on its way to fulfil the government ambition to become a global manufacturing hub of builder hardware products.

Builder Hardware is another performer making India as one of the top 20 suppliers with a 1.2 percent share in the world builder hardware export pie, said Som Parkash, Minister of State of Commerce & Industry

While addressing the Builder Hardware Expo, organised by EEPC India, virtually today, the Minister noted that builder hardware products from India have considerable demand across the continents.

Indian builder hardware product is one of the best performing segments in the Indian engineering goods sector which has been the key driver of merchandise exports from the country.

“Builder hardware industry is linked to the construction equipment industry where the revenue was valued at US$ 6.5 billion in 2020 and the construction market is expected to be the third largest globally by 2025,” said Mr B B Swain, Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

India is the 17th largest supplier of builder hardware products and is on its way to fulfil the government ambition to become a global manufacturing hub of builder hardware products.

Swain stated that EEPC India with more than 60 per cent of its members representing MSME sector took several initiatives even during pandemic to provide global interaction opportunities to small players in the form of webinars and virtual Expos.

“The Government of India has been proactive to ensure that all the benefits of the MSME schemes reach the intended beneficiaries in time,” said Mr Swain.

EEPC India Chairman Mahesh Desai said that the four-day virtual Expo would provide opportunity to the Indian exhibitors to display an array of over 200 domestic builder hardware products to overseas buyers from nine focus regions and trade blocs.

“The buyers would comprise contractors, builders, building engineers, architects, landscape artists, interior designers, consultants and project management professionals,” he said.

Speaking at the Expo, EEPC India Vice Chairman Arun Kumar Garodia said India belongs to the league of leading builder hardware manufacturing and exporting nations.

“The Government of India has now set a National Mission of merchandise exports to reach US$ 400 billion within this fiscal, US$ 500 billion by FY-24 and US$ 1 trillion by FY-28 by making Indian products the only choice for global buyers,” he said.

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MOU SIGNED BETWEEN J&K AND GOVERNMENT OF DUBAI FOR REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT, INDUSTRIAL PARKS, SUPER SPECIALITY HOSPITALS

MoU will give UT a big developmental push: Piyush Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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Jammu and Kashmir administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Dubai for real estate development, industrial parks, IT towers, multipurpose towers, logistics, medical college, super specialty hospital and more.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal highlighted the significance of the day and said that with the signing of the MoU with Dubai Government, the world has started to recognize the pace with which Jammu and Kashmir is traversing on the development bandwagon. This MoU gives out a strong signal to the entire world that the way India is transforming into a global power, Jammu & Kashmir is having a significant role in that as well.

This MoU is a milestone after which the investment will pour in from entire globe and is a big developmental push. Different entities from Dubai have shown keen interest in investment. Development has to be aspired on all fronts and we are on track, he added.

Goyal thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shri Amit Shah for their focus and commitment towards the development of UT of Jammu & Kashmir. Recent industrial package of 28,400 Crore rupees is a testimony towards ensured development.

Terming it a momentous occasion for the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Shri Manoj Sinha said that this development journey will help the Union Territory to scale new heights in Industrialization and sustainable growth.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal highlighted the significance of the day and said that with the signing of the MoU with Dubai Government, the world has started to recognize the pace with which Jammu and Kashmir is traversing on the development bandwagon.

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India is working towards bridging digital divide in Africa: V. Muraleedharan

‘India has adopted an approach that facilitates development of human capital in the continent with the larger objective of harnessing socio-economic growth,’ said V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India

Tarun Nangia

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‘India is working towards bridging digital divide in Africa and has adopted an approach that facilitates development of human capital in the continent with the larger objective of harnessing socio-economic growth”, mentioned V Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India while addressing the Inaugural Session at the 2nd edition of the India Africa Higher Education and Skill Development Summit organised by Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India today.

Muraleedharan elucidated that India is best positioned to partner Africa as we can offer affordable and high-quality education and skill development opportunities and make the young population employable and allow them to participate in growing economies of African countries. Elucidating on the strong Indo-African partnership in the domain of higher education and skill development, the Minister stated that capacity building and providing higher education opportunities with for the socio-economic development of our partner nations is a major element of our Foreign Policy.

India has long standing ties in education with Africa and over 2000 Indian faculty members have been involved in teaching and research activities of Ethiopian nations. Further, defence academies and colleges are being set up in nations like Nigeria and Tanzania. With a view to promote students from African nations to study in India, several initiatives have been undertaken like the Study in INDIA, ITEC programmes, Sir C V Raman Scholarship, collaboration of Department of Science & Technology with the World Bank to develop centres of excellence in African countries and the launch of e-VidyaBharti and e-ArogyaBharti Project, among others.

Dr Sarah Ruto, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Education Republic of Kenya, emphasised that Kenya is working towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals with a special focus on select education-based SDG Goals. She mentioned that Kenya has a competency-based curriculum to meet the rising demands for tertiary education and there is focus on alumni network funding as well as partnerships to promote skill development.

Buti Kgwaridi Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science & Innovation, Government of Republic of South Africa informed that a bilateral cooperation treaty is being negotiated in education for exchange of students as well as to share best practices. He added that forums like IBSA and BRICS have also provided opportunities to address the developmental needs of the nations.

Dame Diop, Minister of Employment, Vocational Training, Apprenticeship and Inclusion, Government of Republic of Senegal informed that the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) which harmonises national policies particularly for human capital development and vocational training is a major step towards promoting employability. The Minister commended India for committing 130 million Rupees to Senegal to create science and technology institutes.

Dr Douglas Letsholathebe, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Government of Republic of Botswana highlighted that the commonality of English language based higher education system offers scope for greater cooperation between the countries. The Minister stated that the Botswana Vision 2036 aims at transformation from a resource-based to an all-ingredient knowledge-based economy focussing on education, training, and human resource development systems. Expressing the commitment to the youth, Botswana has joined the Generation Unlimited initiative as a leader thereby, playing a crucial role in forging multisector partnerships across geographies to provide greater access to skilling and livelihood opportunities.

S Kuppuswamy, Co-Chair, CII Africa Committee & Advisor-Group Finance & Special Projects, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, said that the Indo-African collaboration has strengthened in the post pandemic era as the nations are collectively focusing on new age learning models and enhancing the role of technology in education. Emphasizing on the strong multilateral cooperation with Africa, it was highlighted that one of the most popular programs, the Study in India commonly called EDCIL offered by Ministry of Education offers around 900 scholarships to African students to study in India and Indian universities are also investing in promoting their services to the African community.

The two day Summit organised in partnership with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India will focus on Online education, Study in India and Skills Development programmes. Over 6 ministers from Africa and India participated at the Summit and event saw online registration of 600 delegates from India and Africa.

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Policy & Politics

INDEX NUMBERS OF WHOLESALE PRICE IN INDIA FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER, 2021(BASE YEAR: 2011-12)

Tarun Nangia

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Note: P: Provisional, F: Final, * Annual rate of WPI inflation calculated over the corresponding month of previous year

The month over month change in WPI index for the month of September, 2021 (as compared to August, 2021) was 0.07 %. The monthly change in WPI index for last six-month is summarized below:

Annex-I

All India Wholesale Price Indices and Rates of Inflation (Base Year: 2011-12=100) for September, 2021

Annex-II

Note: * = Provisional, Mf/o = Manufacture of

Note: * = Provisional, Mf/o = Manufacture of

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