Topics for Environment
Types of Biodiversity
> India added 10 Ramsar sites
- India has added 10 more Ramsar sites, or wetlands of international importance (taking the total number of such sites to 64)
- Many of the sites are already notified under the Union government’s Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017 meaning development activities within the waterbody as well as within its zone of influence are regulated.
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Pollution, and degradation
> Amendment to the EIA Rules
- Exempted highway projects of strategic and defence importance: Any project which is 100 km from the Line of Control, among other locations, will be exempted.
- Exemption to the thermal power plant: Thermal power plants up to 15 MW based on biomass or non-hazardous municipal solid waste exempted.
- Ports which exclusively deal in fish handling, exempted
- EIA is a tool use to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision making.
- Evolution of EIA
- 1970: EIA introduced by NEPA in USA
- 1976-77: In India, Planning commission asks for river valley project to be examined from environmental angle
- 1994: EIA notification promulgated under Environment(protection) Act, 1986.
- 2006: Onus of clearing projects now on state governments.
- 2020: EIA notification which gives More Discretionary power to Government
- Make all the stakeholders aware of the environmental and socio-economic impact of the project
- Facilitates a basis for policy decisions: EIA provides the impact assessment well before the project is implemented.
- Helps to eliminate or minimize the adverse impact of developmental projects
- EIA encourages the adaptation of mitigation strategies in the developmental plan
- Protects the biodiversity of the environment by suggesting alternative safe project designs and methods.
- Simplifies the technical issues: EIA produces an environmental management plan and summary for the non-tech general public.
> EIA notification 2020 and its impact
- Public Consultation: Reduced to max 40 days and only 20 days (from 30days) for submitting a response
- This will help speed up the process of EIA. However, it may give very little time for Tribal and forest dwellers
- More Discretionary power for Government: Power to declare ‘economically sensitive areas’ without a public hearing as well as give any project ‘strategic tag’ (so no EIA obligation)
- This is important for the clearance of strategic projects related to defence and national security as well as projects deemed too important for the nation.
- However, there is fear of misuse of this clause for political or economic reasons to circumvent EIA
- Post-Facto-project clearance:
- This will enable ease of doing business and reduce bureaucratic delays. But it is a violation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence and is contrary to both the precautionary principle as well as the need for sustainable development.
- An extended period of Environmental clearance: From 30years to 50 years
- However, it raises the risk of irreversible environmental, health, and social consequence.
- Baseline data: No need to cover all the seasons in a year.
- This may make EIA less reliable and not reveal the full impact of EIA
- Report Issues: reduced from once every six months to once every year.
- This will dilute the scrutiny and it may be late before any mitigation measures could be taken for highlighted project impact.