What is Environmental Impact Assessment Draft 2020 or EIA 2020 ?. The campaign has received overwhelming support on social media. It can be said in one word that our country is preparing to simplify the existing environmental laws in these times when the environment is highly debated. No more exploiting nature without the strings of permits. Rock can be quarried in quarries of less than five acres. The new reform opens the door to those who want to eat the leftovers. Keralites standing in the water up to his neck has raised his voice against this. Kerala is witnessing big moves as the time for public comment is coming to an end. The protest by the youth in cyberspace indicates that the time has come for the public and the political leadership to come together against this.
Environmentalist CR Neelakandan says: ‘The Comprehensive Environmental Protection Act was introduced in 1984. The first goal was to ensure that industries and others started only in compliance with environmental laws. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system was introduced in 1994 to involve the public in it. The current law was enacted in 2006 with some improvements and some concessions. Previously, only the central government had the power to approve projects. Later, some projects were given power by the states. It was renamed as A (Center) and B (State) categories. But now the new moves are eliminating all this. Attempts are being made to eradicate what is here as the nations of the world move forward with environmental considerations. The current notification is in English and Hindi only. It is illegal to say no to local languages.
Concessions previously granted on projects in many sectors have now been increased. The limit for metal processing units has been increased from 30,000 tonnes to one lakh tonnes and the limit for fishing ports has been tripled to 10,000 tonnes per annum. Highway less than 70 meters wide does not require a permit. Irrigation schemes ranging from 2000 ha to 50,000 ha were in the B1 category. It was increased from 10,000 to 50,000 hectares.
Projects for the extraction and refining of marine oil and natural gas were previously in Category A. Now it’s doubled. The study, which excludes the most environmentally damaging mining, was divided into two non-study Bs. Permits for thermal power plants have also been simplified. Previously, those with 20 MW and above were in the A category requiring central approval. Now they are divided into three categories, A category only for that above 100 MW and category B1 for those between 15 and 100 MW. This is how the new updates go.
The new move does not require any study or evidence to obtain an environmental permit for buildings up to 1,50,000 square meters. Previously it was 20,000 square meters. It should be noted that these are buildings up to the T3 terminal of Nedumbassery Airport.
The EIA has decided not to allow mining up to five acres. If the environmental permit is not issued within fifteen days of application, the permit will be deemed to have been obtained. It also changes the way projects are classified based on their environmental impact and requires that investment be considered. Units producing up to 10,000 liters of native liquor per day are excluded from the EIA and public evidence collection. The requirement of prior permission for land acquisition for the operation of ports is completely waived.
Elevated roads and flyovers below 150,000 square meters are classified as Category B and exclude environmental studies. Most exemptions are given to those with the condition that public evidence is mandatory. At a time when the world is demanding more public participation in environmental issues, India is trying to avoid it as much as possible. If the information on a project is made available to the public, they are given 20 days to comment within 30 days. No public hearing is required unless there is an increase of more than fifty percent during the expansion of the scheme. The time limit for completing this process has been reduced from 45 days to 40 days.
Large projects also require the prior approval of the National Wildlife Board. The approval period for a project was extended from five years to ten years at a time. 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 is increased from thirty years to fifty years at a time. Thus, the Environmental Notification 2020 contains proposals that endanger human very existence. The move is being made to ensure that there will be no public protests under the guise of this Covid, ”said CR Neelakanthan.