The DMK is vehemently opposed to the draft Environment Impact Assessment, 2020, and the party will ensure that environment is given priority when it comes to power, said its president M.K. Stalin. He also said the party MPs will raise their voice against the draft notification in Parliament.
Accusing the BJP government of trying to bring changes in the EIA notification with an attempt to destroy the environment in the country, Mr. Stalin demanded that the Centre immediately withdraw the proposed notification and frame laws that will protect and give due importance to environment.
Speaking at a virtual conference organised by the DMK on the EIA Notification 2020, titled ‘Law that destroys environment’, Mr. Stalin said, “I am giving you an assurance now that when we are elected to power, environment will be given importance and top priority.”
Mr. Stalin said the draft notification issued by the BJP government will “completely destroy the environment. Every law brought in by the BJP has been against the people, States and against democracy, without any benefit to the people, be it the National Education Policy, NEET, CAA or their economic policies. Now with this EIA draft, they are going to completely destroy the environment”.
DMK was not opposed to industrialisation, but it should not be done at the cost of environment.
The DMK president said the draft, if approved, would lead to people losing their rights to question or oppose projects. “Projects that destroy environment such as the Salem-Chennai eight lane project, neutrino, hydrocarbon — people will lose their rights to oppose them. They cannot raise questions about any project,” he said.
On the issue of post-facto approvals for projects and complaints to be raised only by government officials and project proponents on violations, Mr. Stalin said the Centre might as well do away with environment protection laws. He also said the Centre’s proposal to appoint environment officers for States was against the Constitution and was aimed at usurping State’s rights.
N. Ram, Director, The Hindu Group Publishing Pvt. Ltd, said India today was going back, regressing. “EIA provisions must provide for a precautionary principle of first avoiding harm and for inter-generational equity. This is a duty we owe to the future generations,” he said. Mr. Ram added that the Centre was behaving in an authoritative manner and hoped that the legal challenge against the draft notification would prevail.
Environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta said the draft notification was an attack on the federal structure of the Constitution. “Look at the process that is adopted – you introduce a law for public comment within a week of lockdown [for COVID-19]. They [Centre] are saying it is not possible to translate the draft in all languages and they don’t have the means and capacity to do it… for a law that impacts every person in this country— this notification has to be rejected especially on this ground,” he said.
Leo Saldanha, trustee, Environmental Support Group, said this is an opportunity to fix the drawbacks in the EIA. “If Modi and Javadekar truly care about the country, they will scrap the draft and constitute a committee,” he said. DMK MP, A. Raja also said the draft takes away the rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution to raise questions. G. Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal provided an overview of the draft and its implications on the environment.