Towering Inferno
Outlook|August 31, 2020
The draft Environment Impact Assesment has triggered outrage for watering down earlier provisions to protect the fragile ecology
Puneet Nicholas Yadav
Towering Inferno

THE intertwined issues of environment, conservation, and climate change rarely make for popular discourse. Jargon-ridden lectures at symposiums, technical research papers or declaration of global goals at international conferences by political talking heads make this expansive axis difficult for the public to navigate, leave alone comprehend. It is, thus, significant that the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 notification put out by the Centre received an unprecedented 18 lakh recommendations and suggestions from common people and activists.

The mandatory process for inviting objections and recommendations to the proposed changes in the EIA framework ended on August 11, the deadline set by the Delhi High Court. The court had set the new deadline after dismissing protestations from the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change, which wanted the consultation process closed on June 30, just over three months after the draft to replace the existing EIA 2006 was placed in the public domain on March 12.

If the massive public response—and outrage—against the draft EIA 2020 has created a record of sorts, the preceding months of the consultation process were no less ordinary. The draft evoked a sharp political response from the Congress, with Sonia Gandhi writing a lengthy op-ed in a national daily detailing the pitfalls of the proposed framework. Congress leader and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh too found an unlikely pen pal in incumbent environment minister Prakash Javadekar as the two exchanged letters countering each other’s contentions on the notification and posting them promptly on Twitter for all to see.

This story is from the August 31, 2020 edition of Outlook.

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This story is from the August 31, 2020 edition of Outlook.

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