Currently, the nation follows the EIA norms as set in 2006. Many activists took issue with the 2006 draft, citing too much importance on bureaucracy and red-tape. However, the new draft does not change these laws, rather, give governments more discretionary powers and lessening public involvement in environmental protection.
Requesting that the Environment Minister reconsider this draft, the letter reads, “The proposed EIA Notification weakens the body of laws that protect the environment at a time when we need to be strengthening such statutes. Worse, the proposed rules seek to enrich businesses and the corporate sector by emasculating democracy, limiting public participation and due diligence, and rewarding environmental offenders by facilitating post-facto environmental clearances for projects that begin or are completed without a licence.”
Youth in Chennai are aware of the long-term implications of this draft, and thus many lent their signatures to the letter. “This generation has witnessed cyclones, floods, droughts and now a pandemic. We don’t want to witness any more environmental disasters as a result of careless and insensitive environmental decisions,” said Kanishk G, a 17-year-old homeschooler and volunteer with Chennai Climate Action Group.
This follows the removal of a YouTube video citing the issues with this notification by a Chennai-based YouTuber Padma Priya, who runs the channel, Chennai Thamizhachi. In her now-deleted video, she raised questions on the intentions behind the notification. The video was deleted due to death threats and excessive online hate.
Public feedback was also open to the EIA 2020 draft until August 10, before it was set to July 30 by Javadekar. The Delhi High Court on July 28 extended this deadline to August 11 following pushback from environmental activists, most who sought for the complete withdrawal of the draft.