EIA Violates Sole Principle of 1986 EPA: Balipara Foundation

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Balipara Foundation said that the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) leads to the violation of the sole motive and basic principle of the 1986 Environment Protection Act.

EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) is an important process to evaluate the environmental impact of a proposed project. It is an essential decision-making tool for the approval of any initiative taken up by the Government or private sector entity. The EIA is important as a legal framework for putting forth basic responsibilities of citizens and authorities, keeping a check on quality of projects and its impact by assessing risks at all costs whether it includes people, ecology or economy. The three most debated contentions put forth by the Balipara Foundation are:

1) post-facto approval – loss of identity, increase in global warming transitions, increase in invasive species disbalance in atmospheric nitrogen and displacement of indigenous livelihoods 2) public consultations: prohibition from any “public hearing”, for example: linear projects like road making or pipelines

3) However, the Government has clearly mentioned that the new draft is being brought forth to make the process more transparent and expedient with rationalization and standardization of the process. Currently, the Eastern Himalayan region has (Indian Northeastern States along with Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal) raised its voice against projects that have violated the statutory framework of carrying out an EIA along with displacing communities, overlooking “precautionary principles” leading to multiple tremors, dismantling the crux of traditional socio-economic cultures, diminishing the chances of sustainable alternate sources of livelihoods and finally over-ruling the fundamentals of ecology as the only economy – disrupting the overarching moralities of globally set standards of nature-based solutions.

The foundation said that if it considers that the Eastern Himalayan businesses to be green in nature and continue to do the same, unlike other conventional industrial practices, the following could be the results:

1) Transformation within the food, land and marine use system acquisitioning the potential to create business opportunities worth almost $3.6 trillion and 191 million new jobs over the next 10 years.

2) Five transitions across infrastructure and the built environment could generate $3 trillion and 117 million jobs by 2030. 3) About $3.5 trillion and 87 million jobs could be generated by 2030. The presence of the current drat EIA 2020, is one such anomaly whose implementation would lead to wiping out of the lungs of the Eastern Himalayan landscape, said the Founder of Balipara Foundation Ranjit Barthakur.

India has been a part of the Rio declaration enunciating a catalogue of environmental principles along with the Paris agreement “ratifying” the preservation of 33% of land under forest cover, but currently touching the mark of 21% only. With that being said, the matter of the Draft EIA 2020 needs to be taken as a serious implication on our future generations with higher levels of climate change effects, lowering of intergenerational equity, loss of natural resources as endowments and biodiversity risks of the highest order.

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