Skip to main content

Govt of India seeking to reduce transparency, slash accountability, 'dismantle' regulations

By Our Representative

Scholars and activists speaking at a high-profile webinar on the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2020, have expressed concern that, while India has seen a consistent hike in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 142nd (2014) to 63rd position in 2019, during the same time period, saw “successive downturn” in the rank from 155th (2014) to 168th (2019) position on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
Organized by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, the TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS), New Delhi, and the India Water Portal as media partner, speakers at the virtual meet said, ranking at the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 also suggests, India is the fifth most vulnerable country as far as climate change is concerned.
Dr D Raghunandan, former president, All India People’s Science Network, said that the notification seeks to bypass the rulings of judicial bodies in a de jure manner, adding, the draft has gone in for a wholesale reclassification of projects as A, B1 and B2 where large numbers of projects have been placed under B2 category under which no approval or public hearing is required.
According to Dr Raghunandan, post facto clearance is the most egregious provision of the draft EIA 2020, and it goes against the rulings of Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal. The draft marks a big shift to centralised environmental process where even the State Impact Assessment Authority is constituted by the Centre. This has reduced transparency and slashed accountability, dismantling environment regulations.
Sucharita Sen, professor, Centre for the study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said that the draft EIA 2020 has made significant dent in the social contract made by the state with its citizens to protect their lives and livelihood, adding, it also violates the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 which pledges to protect and improve the environment.”
Pointing out that the days of public hearing have been reduced from 30 to 20 days, Prof Sen regretted, this suggests the draft doesn’t empower citizens to file violations and non-compliance reports, and this watering down has happened when 99.9 percent of violation cases are brought to authorities by citizens and action groups, she added.
Also objecting to post facto approvals of environmental clearance, she said, this provision pre-empts the possibility of rejection and enhances the industry’s right to pay for violations and get away with whatever it does.
Leo Saldanha, founding trustee and coordinator, Environment Support Group, Bangalore, said that till 1997, public hearing was not mandatory and environmental approvals were based at the discretion of administration. However, the 1997 EIA notification marked the beginning of democratization of environmental clearances.
Ashish Kothari, founder-member, Kalpavriksh, Pune, said that environmental regulatory regime in India has always been very weak, and environment has been considered nominal when compared to the notion of development. We have to challenge the notion of development at any cost. It is necessary to rethink about development, progress or wellbeing in the ambit of environmental ecosystem and we need to relearn from indigenous people to respect the environment, he added.
Dr Walter Fernandes, director, North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, said that the draft paves the way for centralisation of power by “streamlining” the people who are the real stakeholders of the environment by refusing to given a chance to participate and report their concerns, insisting , a weak EIA demands massive mobilisation of people against the draft.
Others who participated in the webinar included Prof Kamna Sachdeva, head of the department and associate professor, Department of Energy and Environment, TERI; Madhu Sarin, environmentalist and land rights activist, Campaign for Survival and Dignity; Ajit Kumar Singh, additional district and sessions judge, Bihar; Brajesh Kumar Dubey, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur; Sara Suresh, student of the Symbiosis Law School, Pune; and Dr Arjun Kumar, director, IMPRI.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Agricultural reform? Small farmers will be more vulnerable, corporates to 'fix' price

By Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
Agriculture employs 42% of the total work force whereas it contributes only 16% to the country’s GDP. The average annual growth rate in agriculture has remained static to 2.9% since the last six years. This means that the post-green revolution conventional agriculture has reached its peak. Responsiveness of soil fertility to fertiliser application, an indicator of stagnancy in agriculture, shows declining trend since 1970. The worst sufferer has been the small and marginal farmers who constitute 86% of total farmers.