Draft EIA notification ‘undemocratic’, says Assam Congress

GUWAHATI: Assam Congress on Tuesday reiterated its opposition to the draft EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) Notification, 2020, terming the proposed amendment “undemocratic” and “very dangerous” to the bio-diversity of the state.

Addressing mediapersons here on Tuesday, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president, Ripun Bora said the party opposed the draft for a number of reasons, for which it would place its objections in written form soon.

“According to the draft, a long list of industries will not be under the ambit of any public hearing prior to inception. It also removes scope of any public hearing/objection prior to setting up industries within 100 km aerial distance from the international border. Such a provision is extremely dangerous for a state like Assam, which is located close to five nations. Our biodiversity, forests, sanctuaries and parks will be under serious threat if industries are allowed without public hearings/scrutiny,” Bora said.

Besides, the APCC president said, “we oppose the draft EIA Notification 2020 for the dilution of the 30 pre-conditions under the existing Act, imposed for setting up an industry.

“But what is most dangerous is the provision of post-facto approval, which allows setting up of any industry without approval and has the provision for approval later, if any irregularity is detected. So, this provision would suit the interests of capitalists and industrialists to haphazardly set up industries and take approval later if anomalies are detected,” Bora said.

“In fact, Supreme Court had in a case on April 1, 2020, given a judgment against post-facto approval to industries, opining that such approval is illegal. The BJP government, by trying to push the amendment, is going against the Supreme Court’s directive,” he added.

The Delhi High Court had recently extended the window for public feedback to the draft till August 11, 2020.

“The basic principle of an environment protection act is to make environmental clearance mandatory before setting up any industry. On the contrary, the draft allows industries without any scrutiny, even in eco-sensitive zones, which again is undemocratic, as such an amendment, if cleared, would negate any opposition to any activity in such zones,” the APCC president said.

The Congress leader further said that in the absence of an alternative mechanism for compensation to the affected people, be it fishermen, farmers, etc, the draft would never be acceptable to the party.

“We also oppose the proposed extension of mining lease from 30 years to 50 years, and that for heavy industries from 10 years to 15 years, which might have a prolonged adverse impact on the ecology,” he said.

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