AAPSU finds ‘loopholes’ in EIA draft; calls for course correction

GUWAHATI: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has observed numerous loopholes in the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020, pointing out that the draft demanded immediate attention and course correction from the Union environment ministry.

In a letter to the secretary, ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) on Saturday, AAPSU stated that the union had minutely gone through the draft and “found many provisions to be pro-industry, averse to affected people’s participation/consultation in the projects and public unaccountability on part of the project proponents.”

The draft EIA 2020 proposes to give prior environment clearance (prior-EC) and prior environment permission (prior-EP) to the project proponents for carrying out the projects listed in the schedule in respect of different categories.

“Why can’t public consultations also be made for such prior clearances to the project proponents? The idea of granting such prior clearances to the project proponents without adequate checks and study defeats the very purpose of the EIA and the Environment Protection Act, 1986,” it stated in the letter to the Centre.

“While the AAPSU welcomes all national defence and security related projects in the greater interests of our country; But the ‘projects involving other strategic considerations’, which are to be determined by the central government, are shrouded in mystery as no criteria or other norms are defined as to what constitutes projects of strategic interests,” it observed.

“We are of the strong opinion that linear projects like oil and gas transportation pipelines and slurry pipelines passing through national parks or sanctuaries or coral reefs or ecologically sensitive areas, will be an ecological disaster for a frontier state like ours,” the union said.

The union felt that the draft, if approved in its current form, will be disastrous not only for a frontier state like Arunachal Pradesh but also the entire Northeast.

“Our region for long has been the carbon sink of India. In addition to creating massive ecological imbalance and destruction, it shall also prove futile for the existence of numerous indigenous communities in the region,” it stated.

The union further viewed that the committee headed by secretary (MoEFCC), responsible for preparation of draft EIA 2020, should “physically visit and meet all stakeholders across the Northeast who will be affected in case the draft becomes a reality.”

“We feel that such development should be sustainable, followed by proper accountability and also the concerns of the indigenous stakeholders should be seriously looked into and addressed,” it added.

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