Govt proposal to gauge environment impact of projects a disaster: Rahul

The new Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 draft which has been placed by the BJP Government for public feedback, is not only disgraceful, it is dangerous, said Rahul.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Sunday termed the new Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 draft, which has been placed by the BJP government for public feedback, as "disgraceful and dangerous."

"The new Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 draft which has been placed by the BJP Government for public feedback, is not only disgraceful, it is dangerous. Not only does it have the potential to reverse many of the hard-fought gains that have been won over the years in the battle to protect our environment, but it could also potentially unleash widespread environmental destruction and mayhem across India," Rahul Gandhi said in a Facebook post while sharing a media report.

The Congress leader said, "Consider this: according to our "Swachh Bharat" propagating Government, if labelled "strategic", highly polluting industries such as coal mining and other mineral mining will no longer require Environmental Impact Assessment. Neither will highways or railway lines passing through dense forests and other eco-sensitive areas, that will result in the massive hacking down of trees, leading to the destruction of habitats of thousands of endangered species."

"And then this terrible idea: Environment Impact Assessment can be given post facto! That is, EIA can be done after a project has already destroyed the environment," he added.

The Wayanad MP termed the EIA 2020 draft as a 'disaster', stating that it "seeks to silence the voice of communities who will be directly impacted by the environmental degradation it unleashes."

Urging the people of the country to protest against the draft, he said: "I urge every Indian to rise up and protest against it. Our youth, who have always been at the forefront of every battle to protect our environment, must take up this cause and make it their own. A fight to protect our environment cuts across political and ideological beliefs. If nothing else, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how fragile human life is. For millions of Indians, already living on the edge, the environment isn't an abstract term, but a life and livelihood issue."

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"If EIA 2020 is notified by the Government, the long term consequences of the widespread environmental degradation will be catastrophic for us and future generations of Indians," he added.

On Thursday, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had issued a point by point rebuttal to Congress leader Jairam Ramesh's objections on the Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020 and termed the "publicity" of his letter as "premature".

He had asserted that the final notification has not been issued and the draft notification is still open for public consultation for more than 120 days.

Referring to a tweet on EIA notification by Ramesh, Javadekar had said he had sent a detailed response to his July 25 letter in the morning.

"Today morning only I had sent you a detailed response to your July 25, 2020 letter, which was delivered at your residence office, still you chose to write this letter and make it public through twitter. I am sharing today's letter here once again," Javadekar had said.

The minister's response came after the Congress MP put out a letter on Twitter regarding draft EIA notification and suggested that it may be kept in "abeyance" until the standing committee completes its deliberations.

"Dear Prakash Javadekar, our Parliamentary Standing Committee has been inundated with requests from various stakeholders to give them an opportunity to present their views on DraftEIA2020. The notification may be kept in abeyance until the committee completes its deliberations," Ramesh had said in his tweet on Thursday.

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