The Delhi High Court extended the deadline to give suggestions to the draft environmental impact assessment notification for 2020 until August 11, declaring it surprised at the Centre’s “obstinacy” not to respond to the “ambiguity” it contains.
The draft EIA notification provides for ex-post approval of projects and suppresses public consultation in certain cases.
A magistrate of DN Patel C.J. and Prateek Jalan J. adopted the order after the Department of the Environment did not respond to the court’s request for “ambiguity” in its decision extending the deadline to as of June 30 to give objections and suggestions to its EIA 2020 project. response filed by the Department of the Environment, the judiciary said: “There is not a word (in the affidavit) on the “ambiguity. Your answer is silent on the main point. Frankly, we are a little surprised at the obstinacy of the central government. The government is being tenacious in this regard.”
The bench also observed that “no effort has been made to answer the question of the ambiguity of the court. Your answer is visibly silent on this subject. This amounts to not answering our question”.
The court also said it was not satisfied with the government’s “attitude” and added that the public consultation process was “not an obstacle”.
“It (the consultation) has a certain importance, it has a certain holiness,” said the bench.
He said he partially authorized the petition, by environmental ecologist Vikrant Tongad, seeking to extend the deadline, to respond to the EIA 2020 project, until the COVID-19 pandemic subsists .
The detailed order is awaited.
Lead counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Tongad, said it was “disturbing” that the government, according to his affidavit, had sent emails to more than 78,000 project developers to inform them of the EIA project and invite their suggestions, but was not prepared to publish it in vernacular languages so that all those who would be affected by such projects could also give their opinion.
Sankaranarayanan, during the hearing, urged the court to give instructions to the ministry to publish the draft EIA 2020 in all vernacular languages so that the majority of the population can understand it and also make suggestions or objections to his subject.
The court had previously declared that there was an ambiguity in the notification of May 8 extending the deadline for public response to the draft EIA 2020, because it mentions a new period of 60 days and also that the window closes on 30 June.
He had asked additional solicitor general (ASG) Maninder Acharya to ask for instructions regarding ambiguity.
On Tuesday, the ASG reiterated the position taken on Monday – that the intention was to extend the period only until June 30.
The stand was not well received by the bench.
The ASG also stated that the draft EIA 2020 had been published on April 11 and that 60 days were due to expire on June 11, but in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided to extend the period until as of June 30.
She also stated that it had already been published in English and Hindi.
The petition claimed that the May 8 notification indicates that the time limit for inviting objections has been extended by an additional 60 days, but it is not clear when the initial 60-day period began.
“If the period of sixty days begins on the date of the draft notification, that is to say on March 23, 2020, the extended expiry date will be July 18, 2020. If the date of notification in the Gazette (the April 11, 2020) is considered to be the beginning of the sixty-day period, the extended expiration date will be August 9, 2020, “said the petition, filed through lawyers Srishti Agnihotri and Abishek Jebaraj.
He also stated that, at the same time, a contradiction arises in the notification of extension, since an end date of June 30, 2020 is specified, ie less than sixty days from the date of publication of the notification of extension on May 8.
The EIA 2020 project, according to the petition, completely replaces and replaces existing environmental standards.
“This draft notification proposes significant changes to the existing regime, in particular the complete abolition of public consultation in certain cases, the reduction of the public consultation period from 45 days to 40 days and the authorization of post-approval of projects” , did he declare.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)