We Cannot have Economy without Ecology - EIA 2020

Aug 24, 2020

The proposed new environment policy of the union government needs a relook if it has to serve its purpose of protecting the country’s ecology and environment.

The draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 proposed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) has been making some noise lately and with good reason. Some are fighting to get it scrapped, some more have only heard of it, but many are ignorant.

The draft EIA notification 2020 is an amendment to its predecessor, the EIA 2006. The establishment of the EIA in India dates back to 1994 when it was formally adopted under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. EIA is a legal process that assesses the impact of a proposed development/infrastructure project on the environment and people with the intention of mitigating the possible adverse impact. It takes into account the voice of the stakeholders involved. This process holds project proponents accountable as it requires them to comply with norms that safeguard the people and the environment.

In March this year, while the country was just coming to terms with Covid-19 that was wreaking havoc in other parts of the world, the MoEFCC hastily put out the draft EIA notification 2020. The changes proposed by the draft threaten to endanger the biodiversity and the health of Indians. The loopholes are glaringly obvious. Evidently, the draft notification provides room to legalize violations in trying to portray India as being “business-friendly” and to push “investment at any cost”. It seems as if our country’s natural resources are being handed over to corporations.

Some of the most problematic aspects of EIA 2020:

• Public consultation has been greatly weakened. The time period for the public to submit responses during a public hearing has been shrunk from 30 days to 20 days and the time to conduct a public hearing from 45 days to 40 days. Shutting out the voice of the people going to be affected will only result in a meaningless and unfair EIA.

• 40 projects are completely exempted from getting any environment clearance at all; projects like mining will get an extension in validity (30 years to 50 years); expansion of existing projects under 25% capacity also does not need a revised EIA.

• Reduced accountability on the part of project proponents, as a compliance report needs to be submitted once a year as opposed to the current requirement of once in 6 months.

• EIA 2020 allows projects to obtain post-facto approval meaning a project can start illegally without clearance and get approval later.

• Violations can be reported only by project proponents/Government and not by the people. How can we expect the fox to guard the henhouse? Meagre fines will be levied for violations, but can we undo the permanent damage?

• Information regarding projects under the strategic category will not be shared in the public domain. This loophole could allow projects unrelated to defence and national security to be categorized as “strategic” just to get away without public consultation.

These are just a few of the changes mentioned in the 83-page document. The initial June 30th deadline given to the public to submit comments on the draft EIA 2020 was extended to August 11th by the Delhi High Court. In addition, the court directed the MoEFCC to translate the draft in 22 regional languages as the document was only available in two (English-Hindi) leaving out a majority of people from reading the draft, let alone submitting comments. As of 6th August, the draft had been translated into only three languages.

As per the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, India is just three places away from ending up at the bottom of the table (177th/180). It took the country just two years to drop 36 places. If EIA 2020 is passed, we would inch closer to succumbing to the forces of nature that we have so negligently messed with. The pandemic was only the beginning. At a time when India is grappling with Covid-19 and already experiencing erratic consequences of the climate crisis - floods in Assam, Mumbai, Cyclone Amphan in the East Coast, all in one year - the draft notification proves to be dangerous, anti-environment, anti-people. We must instead withdraw EIA 2020 and strengthen EIA 2006.

If the Environment Ministry won’t stand by the environment, then which ministry will?




By Megan D’Souza
Megan D’Souza is the head of Communications, Anti Pollution Drive Foundation, Mangaluru.
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to news@daijiworld.com mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Gilbert Menezes, Moodubelle / Melbourne

    Wed, Aug 26 2020

    Thank you Megan for highlighting the most problematic aspects of EIA 2020. For the sake of chasing “exponential growth” the world has continued to carry out mining, oil exploration, and wildlife trade even when there are sustainable alternatives available and there are severe consequences of environmental pollution, global warming, and transfer of deadly viruses to humans.
    Then there is environmental pollution in every city of the world where 4.6 million people die every year from causes directly attributable to air pollution but still, we overcrowd the cities without developing the economy of the rural areas and we continue to mine coal and other minerals when there is an abundance of solar power and other sustainable energies!
    The greed for power and wealth is destroying this beautiful world and it is time to wake up and question dangerous, anti-environment and anti-people EIA 2020.

  • Kevin, Mangalore/ Oman

    Tue, Aug 25 2020

    Thank you, Megan, for bringing forward the issue of EIA2020 and its ramification on the environment. Our green land and wet lands are being given away for crony capitalists to set their cash registers ringing. Although edification on this topic is important, here's why I feel that collectively people are doomed and the environment is destined to be damaged by all this.

    People won't clamor enough around the corruption and cronyism happening in this. Why? People have their own burdens and fights to take care of. Toxic political environment, dwindling job security, overwhelming job work environment, peanuts as income, rising inflation, savings in tatters. All this has burdened people so much that environment has become the least of their concerns. Politicians on their golden throne understand this very well, and they know people won't take this as an issue until it's too late.

    Now, Megan, you cited the diagnosis very well.. The question is what is the cure? How can people, whether individuals or groups, make enough sound so it can catch the sight of right authorities? When that is answered, maybe, just maybe, it will give a clear road map for individuals and concerned organisations to take up the issue the right way and question authorities on the problematic aspects of EIA 2020.

  • Dr.Anand Pereira, Sakleshpur/Mangalore

    Mon, Aug 24 2020

    Megan, You are right. We cannot have economic growth at the cost of Green GDP. I like the way, you have highlighted the many aspects of the draft Environment Impact Assessment Policy.
    There's absolutely no tearing hurry to bring it into legislation. There's so much of groundwork that needs to be done. We cannot be complacent on that front. I do hope, the Ministry of Environment has a long term vision plan for the next 100 years to conserve precious biodiversity. Thank you for the informative article.

Leave a Comment

Title: We Cannot have Economy without Ecology - EIA 2020

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. Daijiworld.com will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will Daijiworld.com be held responsible.