ITANAGAR, Aug 8: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has raised strong objection to the draft environmental impact assessment (EIA)-2020.
In a representation to the union ministry of environment, forest & climate change (MoEFCC) the AAPSU on Friday said that the draft EIA-2020, if approved in its present form, would be disastrous not only for a frontier state like Arunachal but for the entire Northeast region.
“Our region for long has been the carbon sink of India,” the union said, and added that, in addition to creating massive ecological imbalance and destruction, the EIA would “prove futile for the existence of numerous indigenous communities in the region.”
“The draft EIA proposes to grant post facto approvals which will definitely be favourable for projects which have previously been started illegally, and there seems to be serious attempts to dilute the various safeguards provided under the existing EIA and other norms.
The draft EIA-2020 curtails tribal rights,” the AAPSU said. It emphasized on “public consultations and accountability” while promoting sustainable development.
The union also opined that the EIA-2020 notification drafting committee, headed by the MoEFCC secretary, should personally meet all the stakeholders across the Northeast region who are going to be affected if the draft EIA becomes a reality.
Welcoming the developmental initiatives of the central government, the AAPSU said that “development should be sustainable, followed by proper accountability, and concerns of the indigenous stakeholders should be seriously looked into and be addressed.”
The AAPSU also underscored numerous loopholes in the draft EIA-2020.
Pointing out section 14 (2) (e) of the draft EIA proposal, wherein all projects concerning national defence and security, or involving other strategic considerations, as determined by the central government, are exempted from public consultation, the AAPSU said that “the projects which are to be determined by the Centre are shrouded in mystery as no criteria or other norms are defined as to what constitutes projects of strategic interest.”
“The term ‘strategic interest’ is ambiguous and there is every possibility of gross misuse of this provision,” the AAPSU said.
Citing section 16 (1) of the EIA proposal, which allows granting of prior environmental clearance to all applicants for project modernization upto 50 percent in production capacity without public consultation, the AAPSU said, “This is wrong and greatly takes away the power of public consulting in both public and private projects, and this particular provision gives extra leverage to the project proponents at the cost of the affected stakeholders.”
The union demanded immediate attention of the union environment ministry to the numerous loopholes in the proposed EIA-2020 for course correction.