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Cancel environmental hearings scheduled in August: NGO plea to Gujarat CM

By Our Representative

Gujarat environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra in a letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani seeking his intervention to postpone seven public hearings announced across the state between August 18 and 29 in view of the current pandemic situation, regretting, his plea to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the state chief secretary has gone “unheeded.”
Signed by NGO director Mahesh Pandya, the letter, sent to Rupani on August 8, says that under the present Unlock Guideline-3, being implemented in the country and Gujarat, restrictions for mass gatherings continue with regard to not just marriages and deaths, but also all the festivities during the holy Shravan month, including Janmashtami.
“Under such circumstances, the GPCB is holding seven environmental public hearings in August in Morbi, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Kheda, Bharuch and Sabarkantha districts is a violation of Gujarat government's Unlock-3 guideline”, the letter underlined.
“GPCB in a written reply informed on July 31, 2020 has told me that it was holding the public hearings keeping in view the time limit of 45 days set for it after making an announcement. It has quoted a Central directive dated June 2, 2020, which states that state pollution control boards may reassess the possibility of holding public hearings with adequate social distancing and other safeguards as issued by government from time to time”, Pandya said.
Asserting there cannot be any restriction on the number of people attending a public hearing, and people’s lives would be at risk in case such hearing were held, Pandya said, “Most of the people, seeking to make representation, may avoid participating in the hearings in the current situation when there is panic and fear among the people all around because of the Covid-19 crisis.”
Hence, the letter demanded, “Necessary instructions should be issued to the respective departments to postpone the environmental public hearings till the situation of Covid-19 is alleviated. In addition, all district collectors and GPCB officials should be instructed not to announce environmental public hearings.”

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