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The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has amended the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 to increase the availability and production of various medicines.

The ministry has made this amendment in the notification on 27 March 2020.

Main Objective:

The main objective behind implementing this amendment is to deal with the unprecedented situation caused by the COVID-19 epidemic and increase the availability of various medicines.

Key points:

  • Projects that fall into the ‘A’ category require mandatory environmental impact assessments that include a collection of basic data and public consultation, while projects falling under the ‘B2’ category are exempted from the evaluation.
  • The draft is issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to take all such measures for “protecting and improving the quality of the environment.
  • This is being done to make the process more transparent.
  • Furthermore, to facilitate decentralization of evaluation at the state level, these proposals have been reclassified so that this process can be completed faster.
  • This step will help in increasing the availability of all important medicines in the country within a short time.
  • Under this amendment, proposals received by September 2020 will be reclassified.
  • Advice has been issued to all the states of the country to implement such proposals quickly.

The Ministry of Environment has advised all the states to use digital technology such as video conferencing to ensure speedy disposal of proposals received within the stipulated time frame. Given the present circumstances, it is not possible to evaluate all these proposals through direct meetings.

More than 100 offers have been received under this category within the last two weeks. All these proposals are currently under consideration at various levels of decision making by the relevant regulatory authorities in different states of our country.

Issues related to draft EIA notification 2020:

  • The new draft allows for post-facto approval for projects. It means that the clearances for projects can be awarded even if they have started construction or have been running phase without securing environmental clearances.
  • This means that any environmental damage caused by the project is likely to be waived off as the violations get legitimized.
  • The draft notification provides for a reduction of the period from 30 days to 20 days for the public to submit their responses during a public hearing for any application seeking environmental clearance.
  • The new draft requires the promoter to submit a report showing that they are carrying out their activities as per the terms on which permission has been given only once every year which was earlier submitted twice a year.
  • Through the draft notification, the central government gets the power to categorize projects as “strategic” after which no information related to such projects shall be placed in the public domain.

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