The Delhi High Court on Monday mentioned there was “ambiguity” within the Centre’s resolution extending time until June 30 for giving objections and ideas to its draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2020, terming it as “unfair” to the general public.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan mentioned there was ambiguity within the Environment Ministry’s May Eight notification, extending the time for giving objections and ideas to the draft EIA 2020, because it mentions an extra interval of 60 days and likewise that the window closes on June 30.
The ministry, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya and central authorities standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, advised the bench that intent was to increase the interval solely until June 30.
The ASG mentioned the draft EIA 2020 was revealed on April 11 and 60 days from then was to run out on June 11, however in view of the COVID-19 pandemic it was determined to increase the interval until June 30.
She additionally mentioned that until date over 1,000 ideas have are available.
The bench, thereafter, steered that the ministry can proceed processing the ideas, whereas conserving the window open for some additional time to obtain extra.
The ASG mentioned she is going to take directions from the ministry with regard to the courtroom”s suggestion.
The courtroom, thereafter, listed the matter for listening to on Tuesday, June 30.
The courtroom was listening to a plea looking for extension of the interval for receiving objections with regard to the draft EIA 2020, which proposes publish facto approval for tasks and disposing of public session in some situations, until the COVID-19 lockdown subsists.
The petition by environmental conservationist Vikrant Tongad claimed the May Eight notification states that the interval for inviting objections has been prolonged by one other 60 days, however it isn’t clear as to when the preliminary interval of 60 days commenced.
“If the sixty-day period commences on the date of the draft notification, i.e., March 23, 2020, the extended date of expiry will be July 18, 2020. If the date of notification in the Gazette (i.e. April 11, 2020) is taken as the start of the sixty-day period, the extended date of expiry will be August 9, 2020,” the petition has mentioned.
It additionally acknowledged that on the identical time a contradiction arises within the extension notification as an finish date of June 30, 2020 is specified, which is lower than sixty days from the date of issuance of the extension notification May 8.
“Thus, the extension notification is unclear and contradictory,” it claimed.
The bench on June 26 had requested the Centre to make clear on the subsequent date as to what could be the final date for giving objections/ideas.
The petition has sought that the interval for receiving public opinion relating to the draft notification be prolonged until September 30 or until such time the lockdown stays.
The draft EIA 2020, in line with the petition, fully supersedes and replaces the present environmental norms.
“This draft notification proposes significant changes to the existing regime, including removing public consultation entirely in certain instances, reducing the time for public consultation from 45 days to 40 days, and allowing post facto approvals for projects,” it has mentioned. Tongad, in his plea, filed via advocates Srishti Agnihotri and Abishek Jebaraj, has mentioned that the draft EIA was issued on March 23 and first revealed by the Environment Ministry on its web site on April 11 and a 60 day interval was given for receiving objections and ideas from all stakeholders, together with most of the people.
However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak and resultant lockdown, the ministry on May Eight issued a notification extending the interval for inviting objections/ideas until June 30, the plea has mentioned.
It has additionally sought that the translated copies of the draft EIA “be available across the country in the official vernacular languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, and be uploaded on all websites including those of the Environment Ministries of all States as well as those of the State Pollution Control Boards.”
The ASG mentioned the draft EIA 2020 has been revealed in Hindi. P