GUWAHATI, Aug 4 - The draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020, if accepted, will cause immense harm to the ecology and environment of Assam and the North Eastern region and the document should be withdrawn, the Congress party stated today.
Addressing a press conference here, president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) Ripun Bora said the principal opposition party has a number of objections regarding the draft notification, and it has sent a formal communication to the Union Secretary of Environment, Forests and Climate Change demanding withdrawal of the same.
�The draft EIA Notification, 2020, exempts a long list of projects from public consultation. For example, linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing,� said Bora.
He said the term �border area� has been defined as �areas falling within 100-km aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India�.
�That would cover much of North East India, which is a repository of rich biodiversity,� Bora said, alleging that the draft is totally silent on the biodiversity and ecology of Assam and NE. Large tracts of land and forest areas of Assam have already been devoured by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries in recent decades and the process is continuing, yet the draft is �totally silent about measures to protect the land and forests of Assam,� Bora said.
He also alleged that the draft dilutes regulatory provisions regarding industrial and development practices and it will encourage pollution. If implemented, the provisions of the draft will lead to irreparable losses to the ecosystem of this region, he added.
Bora said the mechanism of post-facto environmental clearance will have severe consequences. He pointed out that the Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered in April this year, had disapproved of the concept of post-facto environmental clearance and stated that such practices could be detrimental to the environment.
He said the draft allows several �toxic industries� to operate as close as 0-5 km from a protected area and this will pose a risk to the country�s forests and water sources.
�The draft notification proposes declaration of some areas as �Economically Sensitive Areas� without a public hearing or comments from stakeholders, which is against democratic principles and which would cause severe damage to the environment and biodiversity... the draft extends the validity period for approvals in critical sectors such as mining and other heavy industries to 50 years from 30 years and 15 years from 10 years, respectively, thus increasing the risk of irreversible environmental, social and health consequences on account of the fact that the projects will remain unnoticed for long,� said Bora. He added that the draft notification exempts several large industries from public hearings.