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Union Environment Minister rebuts objections by Jairam Ramesh on draft EIA Notification

Union Minister also termed Congress leader’s letter in social media as “premature” and asserted that the final notification has not been issued and the draft notification is still open for public consultation for more than 120 days. Sharing a copy of this letter on social media, Union Environment Minister also criticised congress leader for publicising his second letter which said he was still awaiting a response from the environment minister.

Last month, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had termed Ramesh’s suggestions as “unfounded” and based on “misinterpretation” after the Congress leader raised strong objections to the draft EIA notification. Union Environment Minister in his letter Jairam Ramesh also said that the provision of ex-post facto approval in draft EIA will bring violators under regulatory regime by imposing heavy penalties.

The Minister said that Ramesh’s point that the “Government intends to give ex-post facto approval to the cases involving violation” is absolutely wrong connotation because Environment Clearance (EC), which will be issued is prospective in nature, and previous actions resulting in violation will be made liable to stringent penal action as per the statutory provisions.

Taking on Ramesh’s second objection related to reducing time period for public hearing, the minister said that 30 days period have been given for conducting public hearing but the actual public hearing takes place one day only in the presence of district authorities. “Thus, we are not reducing the process of public hearing but making it more meaningful and 82 category projects are exempted from public hearing since 2006. We have not changed that. We have many suggestions on addition of more industries in this category which we have taken note of it.”

Union Minister also said that the government is allowing expansion without a public hearing only in cases where the proposed expansion does not lead to an increase in pollution load and with adequate environmental safeguards. Clarifying on the Congress leader’s objection on raising the validity of Environment Clearance (EC) tenure for 10 years, the Union Minister said that the EC is valid for 7 years and which can be further extended by another three years as per the present EIA notification of 2006 regime.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar made it clear that he is ready to discuss various issues in detail when the situation warrants.

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