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Gujarat NGO asks Javdekar to make public all comments on draft EIA notification

By Our Representative

Gujarat-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya has asked Union minister for environment forest and climate change Prakash Javdekar to ensure that all the comments made on the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 notification are uploaded on the Union ministry’s website for perusal of the general public.
The draft EIA was issued on March 12, days ahead of the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one major contention of environmentalists why there was “little time” to consult general people, especially the affected sections, about its pros and cons.
In a letter to Javdekar, Pandya, who is director of Ahmedabad-based NGO Paryavaran Mitra, which holds observer status in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said, in view of the fact that August 11 was the last day to submit comments/suggestions regarding draft EIA notification, the Ministry should be transparent about who all said what about it.
Pandya, who holds special consultative status with United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), said, “I request you to follow transparent process regarding developments with this issue. We hope that you will surely disclose submission details in public domain.”
He added, “As your government believes in transparency and respects public participation, we are hopeful that all the procedures will be available in public domain. Your government always put people's participation at priority, so kindly follow that rule for upcoming developments for draft EIA 2020 notification.”
The senior civil society activist’s plea comes close on the heel of more than 100 environmentalists, civil society activists and citizen’s groups writing to all the 785 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs seeking the draft EIA notification’s “immediate withdrawal.”
The letter to the MPs, emailed on August 11, says, at a time like this when dealing with the pandemic and welfare of the people should be of utmost priority to the state and when people are unable to effectively engage with the process, the government instead is unleashing “draconian and destructive” policies and actions in order to “overhaul the environmental governance of the country and remove even the existing safeguards and protections.”
Citing “multiple disasters faced by the citizens of the country, either in the form of industrial disasters, accidents, building fires and collapses, floods, draught, forest fires, landslides, human-animal conflict, food and water crisis”, the letter, listing major objections, said that there is an “urgent need for strengthening our environment policy to address the crisis of climate change and put to a halt the environment destruction that is rapidly taking place.”

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