New Delhi, Aug 10, 2020: A day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described the draft environment impact assessment (EIA) as a “disaster” and urged people to protest against it, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday that those raising objections to the draft (EIA notification are the same people who took “big decisions without consultations” when they were in power.
“Saw reaction of some leaders demanding protest against the EIA draft. How can they protest against the draft? It is not a final notification. It was kept for public consultation for 150 days because of Covid-19. Otherwise it is only 60 days as per rules,” PTI quoted him as saying after an event to celebrate World Elephant Day.
Javadekar said the environment ministry has received thousands of suggestions which it will consider before coming out with the final draft.
“We have received thousands of suggestions which we welcome. We will consider those suggestions. Then take a call and come out with the final draft. So people jumping just on the draft is not fair practice. Those who want to now protest, took many of the big decisions without consultations during their regime. It is unnecessary and premature. I have mentioned it in my letter to (Congress leader and former Union minister) Jairam Ramesh,” he said.
“It (Gandhi’s comment on EIA and demanding protests) is unnecessary and premature,” Javadekar said.
On Sunday, Gandhi had tweeted, “This EIA 2020 draft is a disaster. It seeks to silence the voice of communities who will be directly impacted by the environmental degradation it unleashes. I urge every Indian to rise up and protest against it.”
The Congress leader has also called for its withdrawal, saying it will lead to further environmental destruction and looting.
“EIA 2020 draft must be withdrawn to stop the loot of the nation and environmental destruction,” Gandhi said.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh who heads the Parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment, forests and climate change, technology has been one of the strongest critics of the draft EIA.
On Monday, ahead of Javadekar’s comments, he said the draft EIA loosens pollution standards for thermal power plants, dilutes coastal regulation zone and opens up the western ghats in a substantial manner in an eco-sensitive area among other things
He accused the government of adopting double standards on environmental issues.
“Globally, you want to assume the role of being an environmental leader but domestically, what you are doing is diluting all the laws that we have,” Ramesh said.
“In our desire for faster economic recovery from this current crisis, land laws and environmental laws will become the biggest casualties,” he warned.