The Delhi High Court will, on Friday, hear a petition seeking extension of time granted to the general public to give its suggestions on the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 on the grounds that they could not participate fully in giving comments for the same due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The application, filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad through advocate Srishti Agnihotri, is listed for hearing on Friday before a bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan.
Tongad has sought extension of the timeline granted to the public to give its suggestion regarding the EIA 2020, ending on June 30, to September 30 or 2020 or till the time the Covid-19 lockdown subsists.
On March 23, thi year, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change published a draft notification on Environmental Impact Assessment and sought objections or suggestions from members of the public. However, due to the pandemic, the government extended extended the notice period to the public until June 30 hoping that the lockdown would end, the plea said.
“However, even this time is woefully inadequate, since cases of Covid-19 are on the rise, and there are still several restrictions of people”s movements and access to technology and resources. The extension notification itself is contradictory and unclear as to the exact duration of extension of notice period,” the plea said.
The petitioner further contended that the postal services have been suspended, in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, on account of which citizens cannot send their objections to the government.
“As a result of this, the members of public have been unable to comment on a substantive notification that completely supersedes and replaces the existing environmental norms,” the petitioner said.
Tongad further stated that in order to facilitate a fair and meaningful consultation, the notification needs to be translated into all official vernacular languages and shall be placed at a prominent position on the MoEF& CC website as well as the websites of the Central and State Pollution Control Board and the Environment Ministries of all the states.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.