Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Home States Other States ‘Draft EIA notification fosters non-transparency, encourages environmental violations’

‘Draft EIA notification fosters non-transparency, encourages environmental violations’

The draft environmental impact assessment (EIA) notification issued by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in March dilutes the EIA process and encourages environment violations in case of big irrigation projects, alleged the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).

The SANDRP is a network of researchers and experts working on water and environmental issues. Amruta Pradhan, a researcher with the SANDRP, said the 83-page notification in its draft form rendered the environmental clearance (EC) process “non-transparent, undemocratic, unjust and unaccountable”.

“In the case of large-scale hydropower and irrigation projects, the SANDRP, through field studies, has routinely witnessed irregularities like poor quality of work, dishonest EIAs coupled with misinformation about the project, and inadequate or no impact assessment, to name just a few of the violations. The MoEF’s draft ensures no monitoring of these projects, let alone achieving compliance,” Ms. Pradhan said. If implemented, the MoEF’s draft will replace the 2006 EIA notification for future projects. The most significant change in the amended draft has been in respect of category ‘B’ projects, Ms. Pradhan said. (Hydro-electric projects lesser than 75 MW but higher than 25 MW fall in category ‘B1’)

Public consultation

While a significant slab of threshold limits is now pushed under category ‘B2’ projects, these projects are completely exempted from the EIA and public consultation process. Further, these categories have been kept fluid, she said. “This means that essentially, all the hydro-electric projects lesser than 25MW and irrigation projects that have a culturable command area between 2,000 and 10,000 hectares will not need an EIA or a public consultation for their appraisal,” she said.

Ms. Pradhan further said in the 2006 EIA notification, category ‘B’ project was treated as category ‘A’ project if the project fulfilled the ‘general conditions’, which meant if they were located (in whole or in part) within 10 km from the boundaries of protected areas, critically polluted areas, eco-sensitive zones, or inter-State and international boundaries.

“But as per the new notification, ‘B1’ projects fulfilling the general condition will be appraised by the expert appraisal committee, but they will no more be treated as category ‘A’ projects. This explicit clarification does seem to imply that they will undergo less rigorous appraisal,” she said.

Eco-sensitive zones

She feared that with the removal of such conditions, projects could now be proposed in dangerously close proximities of boundary of protected and eco-sensitive zones. The draft notification also stated that while projects concerning national defence and security or “involving other strategic considerations as determined by the Central government” would not be treated as category ‘A’, “no information relating to such projects shall be placed in public domain”.

“From this, it is clear that with the Centre deciding on the ‘strategic considerations’ for their projects, they are free to hide information from people under this rubric. This flies in the face of the Centre’s stated intention of making the EC process more transparent,” she said.

Ms. Pradhan said that the ambiguous nature of the draft raised a strong possibility that large projects proposed in Himalayan region or in the western ghats may be split on paper into smaller ones of 25MW, thereby escaping environmental scrutiny of any kind.

“How safe is it to allow these projects in the Himalayan region, which is highly vulnerable to high-intensity quakes, landslides and flash past disasters of Uttarakhand (Kedarnath), Himachal Pradesh and Nepal among other regions. These have shown how damaging such projects in these highly risky zones region could be,” she said.

You have reached your limit for free articles this month.

Subscription Benefits Include

Today’s Paper

Find mobile-friendly version of articles from the day’s newspaper in one easy-to-read list.

Unlimited Access

Enjoy reading as many articles as you wish without any limitations.

Personalised recommendations

A select list of articles that match your interests and tastes.

Faster pages

Move smoothly between articles as our pages load instantly.


A one-stop-shop for seeing the latest updates, and managing your preferences.


We brief you on the latest and most important developments, three times a day.

Not convinced? Know why you should pay for news.

*Our Digital Subscription plans do not currently include the e-paper ,crossword, iPhone, iPad mobile applications and print. Our plans enhance your reading experience.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Indian Staffing Market will be the largest market in the world, today the industry is an over 6 billion dollar industry, says Mr Sultan...

Mumbai: According to Mr Sultan Khan, Founder & Director of EaseConnect HR Services Pvt. Ltd. Indian Staffing Market will be the largest market in...

HSE Interview Questions & Answers

What is Safety? The condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury is Called Safety. What is the accident? It is an...

Putham Pudhu Kaalai trailer: Five Tamil filmmakers bring five stories of love in the time of Covid-19

The trailer of Amazon Prime’s upcoming Tamil film Putham Pudhu Kaalai was unveiled on Monday by filmmaker Mani Ratnam and composer A.R Rahman. Tamil...