Environmental campaigners have objected to the “silence” of the State government to some of the provisions of the 2020 Draft EIA notification and the manner in which its views were finalised. They were also critical of the lack of public consultation before finalising the position of the State.
In its four-page response, the State had opposed the proposals regarding the environment clearance for mining projects and reduction of time for public consultation while demanding the reinstatement of the district-level environment impact assessment authorities.
It was strange, said V.S. Vijayan, former chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board, that the State did not oppose post facto clearances, the most disastrous proposal in the draft notification. It was ridiculous to seek environment clearance after setting up a project and causing environmental damage, he said.
The suggestion to exempt huge constructions from the ambit of EIA should have been opposed. Kerala should have formed an expert panel and held public consultations before finalising its views, said Mr. Vijayan, who was also a member of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.
Harish Vasudevan, environmentalist, felt that the State should have objected to the suggestions for diluting the environment clearance procedures for mining and other projects. The government’s stand on district-level environment appraisal committees was unjustifiable as they were found ineffective by the National Green Tribunal.
Most of the district committees were found lacking the required expertise to assess the environmental impacts of projects. The draft failed to treat the violations of the environment clearances accorded to projects as violations, which should have been opposed. The State should have held public consultations before firming up its position, he said.
N. Badusha of the Wayanad Paristhithi Samrakshana Samithi felt that the State should have asked for scrapping the draft and demanded a new set of legislations for protecting the environment. Both the State and the Central governments were supporting the cause of corporate houses and mining barons through the notification. The views of the environmentalists should have been solicited before finalising the views, he said.