People should tackle EIA legally: Jairam Ramesh

‘It will take away powers of States’

Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said the Environment Impact Assessment Act (EIA) 2020 as a subordinate legislation violates the parent Environment Protection Act, adding that the Modi government has proposed the changes keeping in mind the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ criteria.

In a virtual interaction organised by the Research Department of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and moderated by former MP Rajeev Gowda, Mr. Ramesh said the proposed changes would not only dilute the environment laws but would take away the powers of the State government.

“I think the legal reason against EIA is very strong and I would encourage people to take to legal recourse,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Mr. Ramesh, who heads the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Science and Technology, claimed that that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) ultimately wanted to move towards a system where EIA clearances would be given online.

He also alleged that the MoEF had blocked its sites to prevent public comments on the EIA 2020 from coming in.

“When I was the Minister, once I got 800 mails. I knew that Greenpeace was behind it. I gave them a call, told them that one mail was enough. I laughed, they laughed but I didn’t block the site. The disturbing part is that this government wants protests to go as a democratic tradition,” he said.

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