Itanagar: The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 draft will be worse than the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombing, stated social activist Jarjum Ete”.
Social activist Jarjum Ete along with Environmentalist SD Loda in a press conference has expressed several flaws and concerns to the environment in the draft.
Jarjum Ete stated that “the Draft EIA 2020 will be worse than the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombing”, especially for the tribal state like Arunachal Pradesh because as per Forest Rights Act 2006, according to state government is not necessarily to be implemented in the state as stated in an official document to Govt. of India MoEF in 2010, she stated.
While addressing the media persons, Ete questions the state government ‘How the state’s future generations can actually ensure that their rights and privileges for indigenous tribal community are protected’?
“We are yet to hear from so-called Community Based Organizations (CBOs) about their visions of how they would like to ensure the protection of rights of the tribal community. We actually hope and wait to hear from them”, as the ‘Statehood Act’ does not protect our rights to our own natural resources like of Nagaland and other.
Ete also said, “EIA 2020 draft will be worse than the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombing”, especially for the tribal state like Arunachal Pradesh because as per Forest Rights Act 2006, according to state government is not necessarily to be implemented in the state as stated in an official document to Govt. of India MoEF in 2010.
“Our state’s educated youth lacks the interest in knowing about the policies and provisions of constitutions of various government acts which actually administer the state; one of those is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) policy”, Ete added.
Loda mentioned that EIA 2020 draft notification directly contradicts the basic precautionary principles of EIA 2006, environmental governance. It legitimizes post-facto clearance, which means that even in cases where a project has come up without environment clearance, the project can continue to run.
“Thus, the draft proposes to regularize violations that may occur, when instead it needs to take stringent action against the defaulting project proponent and shut down violating projects”, he added.
Loda added about exclusion of major projects, “The EIA’s scope has shrunk vastly with this draft, in direct contradiction to its mandate of safeguarding the environment. One of the most worrying new regulations is regarding the re-classification of projects that are required to undergo a complete scrutiny under the EIA”.
The notification includes only those areas as notified by the MoEFCC as Eco-sensitive zones and areas. These excludes reserve forests and other ecologically fragile areas such as high-altitude ecosystems, wetlands, deserts, floodplains, peat lands, mangroves, habitats of sensitive flora and fauna and watershed areas which eases clearance for projects to be undertaken as ecologically significant areas, endangering wildlife.
Loda also claimed the notification underemines the EIA 2006 notification of empowering citizens by exempting various types of projects from having to conduct public hearings before beginning construction including B2 projects and projects concerning national defense or security, thus making a room for non-transparency. The power to official report of environmental violations in projects is with the project developers and government authorities, leaving no scope for directly affected communities to report over any violations.
Public consultations are critical for such developments, removing them is no less than taking away the democratic rights from the local communities. And which is the only opportunity to voice for their concerns on projects and other developments that directly impact their lives.
Also, the troubling aspects of draft EIA 2020, it is said that the environment ministry needs to be reminding the law of Article.51 (g), the Indian Constitution which says that ‘it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment and to have compassion for living creatures’.
While stating, ‘as we are well aware of Modi government capability’, Ete appeals to the public to come out in support of their demands for better Arunachal Pradesh in future.
Meanwhile, both of them alongwith others prominent members of ‘Concerned Citizens of Arunachal Pradesh’ on Monday demands for the withdrawal of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 draft which is open for public comment till August 11.