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Strong opposition to draft EIA Notification, 2020

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 28 - With opposition to the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 becoming more vociferous in Assam and the other north-eastern states, NGO Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) has appealed to all the NE states to unite in registering a strong protest against the notification that is detrimental not just to the interest of Assam, but to the entire region.

�With powerful lobbying in favour of the draft, it is very important that the North East is united in its opposition to the draft EIA. At least the north-eastern region must be kept out of the ambit of proposed amendments to the EIA,� SGBG president Krishno K Borooah and vice president Ajoy Dutta stated.

SGBG appealed to all the chief ministers of the NE states to join hands in opposing the draft EIA, and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep the North East out of the purview of some of the amended provisions of the proposed EIA, 2020.

�Some provisions like the ex-post-facto environmental clearance, dilution of certain projects by placing them in Category B2, not mentioning the requirement of clearance from the National Board of Wildlife for projects falling in the eco-sensitive zones, are some of the clauses that are certainly alarming. Natural resources are the biggest strength and pride of the North East,� the NGO stated.

�Some activities, with high potentials for environmental impacts are listed in the B2 list which will not require appearing before the Appraisal Committee. Such provisions may lead to misuse of the EIA by powerful lobbies. With growing concerns about protecting the eco-sensitive areas and natural resources of Assam and the North East, we need more stringent protective measures, rather than dilutions of the existing provisions for corporate benefits,� the NGO added.

A number of students� organisations, including the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Satra Mukti Sangram Samity (SMSS) have also voiced their opposition to the draft.

LDP opposes notification: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) too has opposed the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020, proposed by the Union government.

�The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has lately come up with the anti-people EIA draft to permit the setting up of industries and projects on forest land. The concerning factor about this draft is that it will empower the government to allow industries and projects on forest land without leaving any scope for the common people to voice their concerns,� Partha Protim Bezbaruah, general secretary of LDP, said.

He added, �Also, the government can decide to set up industry within 100 km of any international boundary and there will be no public hearing regarding this. The draft refers to 100 km aerial distance only. As we know, almost all states of the North East, including Assam, are connected to international borders. As such, this draft is directly against the interest of all people of the North East.�

Bezbaruah said that the draft of the EIA Notification 2020 also carries the proposal to regularise the projects which have hitherto been set up illegally on forest land.

�This will render many illegal industries legal. This entire development makes it clear that the government is hell-bent upon silencing the local populace, and it is autocratically bringing in measures to loot the resources and serve the interests of moneyed outsiders. The Central government is maintaining a stony silence in spite of the obvious threat to the peace in Assam and the entire north-eastern region,� Bezbaruah said.

He said that the notification can �under no circumstances� be accepted as �it poses threat to Assam and the entire north-eastern region�.

He said that this proposal of the government will push Assam to the brink of destruction and enable outsiders to establish control over the land and resources of Assam and the North East.

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