23 Jul EIA Amendment Rules – A case for development or disaster
EIA Amendment Rules – A case for development or disaster – Today Current Affairs
News: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has notified amendment to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Rules.
Today Current Affairs
- Strategic and defense-related highway projects are excluded from environmental review including those located at least 100 kilometres from the Line of Control.
- It will eliminate the requirement of new permission for the contentious Char Dham project’s construction (connectivity to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri shrines).
- Thermal power plants up to 15 MW that run on biomass or non-hazardous municipal solid waste and use auxiliary fuels like coal, lignite, or petroleum products up to 15% are also exempt from this rule.
- Ports that only handle fish and serve small fisherman will not need to get environmental clearance.
About EIA : The Hindu Analysis
Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has decentralised the environmental clearance projects by categorizing the developmental projects in two categories. i.e., Category A and Category B. Category A projects are appraised at national level and Category B projects are apprised at state level.
- Category A projects require mandatory environmental clearances so they do not undergo the screening process.
- While, Category B projects undergoes screening process and they are classified into two types.
- Category B1 projects (Mandatory requires EIA).
- Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).
EIA cycle comprises of 4 stages : The Hindu Analysis
- Screening: Screening is done to see whether a project requires environmental clearance as per the statutory notifications.
- Scoping: Scoping is a process of detailing the terms of reference of EIA. Ministry of Environment and Forests has published sector-wise guidelines, which outline the significant issues which has to be addressed in the EIA studies.
- Public hearing: Law requires that the public must be informed and consulted on a proposed project after the completion of EIA report. Any one likely to be affected by the proposed project is entitled to have access to the Executive Summary of the EIA.
Draft EIA 2020: The key points of dispute raised by UN Special Rapporteurs (independent experts working on behalf of the United Nations) are:
It categorizes the projects and activities into 3 categories A, B1, B2. However, it excludes any project of “Strategic Nature” like Waterways, NHs etc.
- It shortens the period of public consultation hearings to 40 days maximum and also reduces the time available to public to submit their responses on any application seeking environmental clearance from 30 to 20 days.
- It also allows the declaration of some areas as “ecologically sensitive areas” without a public hearing or environmental clearance, and several “red” and “orange” classified toxic industries could now operate as close as 0-5 km from a Protected Area. The Hindu Analysis
- The increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects (50 years versus 30 years currently) and river valley projects (15 years versus 10 years currently).
- The most devastating blow to the EIA regime is the creation of an ex-post-facto clearance. Under this, when an EIA clearance is not sought or not granted, and the construction of the project had already taken place, then the project proponent can enter an assessment procedure to determine fines for the violations. The Hindu Analysis
Thus, it appears that the current government is rooted in Neo-Liberal governance and therefore there are attempts to compromise the environment for the sake of development.