Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How EIA 2020 will Damage India! | Dhruv Rathee

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Greetings, friends!

The gas leak in the pesticide plant of the Union Carbide in Bhopal

The fire that broke out at an oil well in Assam

A gas leak in a chemical plant at Vishakhapatnam

I do not need to count and tell you how many people have died in these disasters

and how many people have been affected indirectly

I'll come straight to the point and ask you-

Would you want such a disaster to take place right beside your home?

or in your village or in your towns?

If not, then watch this video carefully and do what I tell you in the end

After the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984, the Indian government realized

that the then existing environmental laws in India were insufficient

If we want to avert such disasters from happening in the future,

then there was a need for stronger and more powerful laws

This is why the Indian government came up with the Environment Protection Act in 1986

There was a new process in this act- EIA (Environment Impact Assessment)

This process is applicable for all projects in India

That is a real estate in construction somewhere in India, or an infrastructure project

like the construction of a dam or a highway or a coal mine or a chemical plant

EIA is applicable on all of these

This process tells us that we should see what the impact of any project on the environment will be

If a coal mine is going to be built somewhere, then how many forests would be axed in the process?

What will happen to the people in the villages nearby? Would they lose their livelihoods?

We should look at both the positive and the negative impacts of the project

and then efforts should be made to reduce the negative impact as much as possible

and if the Environment Ministry feels that the negative impacts are far too adverse,

then such a project should not be granted clearance

So, environmental clearance would be granted on the basis of EIA

Let me show you a brief overview of the entire process

First, there is a process of site selection- choosing where the coal mine would be made

Then Environment Impact Assessment would follow

Following which, the NOC (No objection certificate) would be applied for

And then a public hearing would be conducted- the public would be asked

the people living there would be asked their opinion

Based on it, a report would be prepared which would then be passed on to the environmental appraisal committee

which is a committee of experts and scientists

They would judge whether it would be okay to build a coal mine in that place or not

Whether the negative impacts are far too many or if they have a suggestion to reduce that negative impact

or if something else could be done

For example, the people living in the villages nearby could be provided with other means of livelihood

and to compensate for the deforestation, trees could be grown somewhere else

This committee will decide and put forth suggestions before the company

and then the project would be accepted and environmental clearance would be granted

by the Ministry of Environment

The process sounds all great, but in reality, its implementation is not that effective

There are a lot of shortcomings in this law and it has been grossly misused as well

Many cases have been observed wherein a coal mine or a power plant has been constructed

without conducting a public hearing

For example, in the case of Chattisgarh, a steel and power limited plant was constructed

and public hearings for it were not conducted in a proper manner

In other cases, public hearings are conducted but the company sends its own people

to threaten people against speaking up against the project

In some cases, the EIA reports are fake

Studies are not conducted properly

And this is exactly why disasters like Vishakhapatnam gas leak happen in our country

In this specific case, this plant had not even been granted environmental clearance

and despite that, it was in operation

And the story behind the fire in the oil wells in Assam was that

public hearings for the project were not conducted

The project was violating the environmental laws

and despite that, it was in operation

So, you can clearly see that these laws were not being implemented in a sound manner

which leads to disasters like these

So, there is no doubt about the fact that the law needs to be made stronger

and its implementation needs to be strengthened further today

But what is actually happening?

The government is doing the exact opposite in the new draft of EIA that it has just released

The government declared that it was bringing about some changes in the process of EIA this year

And they released their draft in the month of March. It is a document of around 80 pages

It is available on the government's website

This draft entails the changes that the govt wants to bring about in Environmental impact assessment

which they, ideally, want to make into a law

They have given the public time until the 11th of August and if any of us feels that

there are some shortcomings with this law and if we have any suggestions to make,

then we may put them before the government by writing to them on this email id

The problem is that there are several issues with this new EIA draft

Instead of making the environment act stronger, it makes it weaker

So that all the industries are easily able to exploit it

and this will cause the disasters that we see today to multiply in the future

How is that? Come, let us see- one by one.

The first problem is that there is a clause of "post facto clearance"in the draft

that is, say a project has already started construction somewhere without environmental clearance

then it is not an issue

say a project is already in operation somewhere without environmental clearance

then it is not an issue either

The project can get its environmental clearance later

This is extremely dangerous

Because you have already seen the Vishakhapatnam gas leak

The chemical plant involved in that case was operating without an environmental clearance

As per this new law, that would have been completely right and legal

Think about it- say, a coal mine is being constructed after clearing off a forest,

and the government says its okay for them to do so. They can get an environmental clearance later

if they haven't been provided with a clearance earlier

In April, Supreme Court had even passed a judgement declaring that post facto clearance is a wrong approach

and that such a law should not be made

The second problem- The time for public hearing has been reduced

Earlier, 30 days were designated for public hearing.Now, only 20 days would be provided

This is clearly stated on page number 47

The last line of point 3.1 states- "A minimum notice period of 20 days

shall be provided to the public for furnishing their responses."

30 days were already insufficient. Now it has been reduced to 20

Think about it- Say, a large dam is being constructed

the construction of which might take a period of 6-7 years

and yet you're providing a period of 20-30 days to villagers to assess the negative impacts of it?

It is a very short window for them to do that and put their points before government officials

Third problem- if a project violates an environmental law,

then the public has no right to point out that violation

This violation can be revealed by the violater himself or the government

Let me explain with an example- say I'm building a coal mine in the middle of a forest

After clearing off the forest, I build a coal mine in the middle of a national park

which is in violation of the environmental law

The public sees it happening, but they can't do anything

The public has no right to point out that violation

This violation can be revealed by the violater himself- So I can myself state that I'm doing wrong

by constructing a coal mine and I'm violating the laws

or the government can point that out

Page number 29. Point number 22

"The cognizance of the violation shall be made on the

suo moto application of the project proponent"

suo moto application means that the person working on the project can himself point out the violation

or it can be done by the government authority

or the appraisal committee or the regulatory authority

This is complete malarkey- they are basically expecting that if someone has committed a theft,

then the thief himself can say that he has committed theft

None of you can point that out

Fourth problem- Until now, any project that was concerned with national defence or security

then that project was not put up for public hearing and the information related to it was not made public

which is right because it is not necessary in some important matters that concern national security

But the government has added an extra line in this new draft

Page number 9, point 7.

"All projects concerning national defence and security or involving other strategic considerations

as determined by the central government."

This third part is problematic

The government says that the strategic projects according to the government

public information regarding that would not be revealed by the government and no public hearing would be held

That means, the government can put a stamp of "strategic" on any project

Tomorrow, if someone builds a coal mine in the Ranthambhore park,

and the public asks why that is happening and asks for details,

the government can merely stamp a "strategic" stamp over it and refuse to disclose any information on it

It is upto the government to decide what is strategic and what isn't

even if it doesn't concern national security

Fifth problem- The government has defined several projects that would be exempt from public consultations

I'll show you an example- Go to page number 19, point number 2

It states that "Public consultation is exempt from the following-" and they have listed out the points

as projects in which there would be no public consultations

The point number f in that includes all linear projects in border areas

And if you look at the definition of border areas on page number 3, point 6, then you will see that

Border area means area falling within 100 kilometers aerial distance from the Line of Actual control

with bordering countries of India

So, basically, in the entire region of North east India, there'd be almost no public consultations

And it is already an extremely ecologically sensitive part

There are so many forests in North east India that have not yet been cleared and are still untouched

Now, they would be endangered because of this

The government would no longer consult the public here

Look at how large an area of 100 kilometers is. Look at the 100 kilometer line from the borders in the north east

How far does it span?

It covers almost all of North East India

where there would be no public consultations for projects any more

Forests would be cleared. Coal mines and chemical plants would be built here without public consultation

But there is still time. The government has not yet implemented these changes. It is only a draft right now

We have time time until August 11

We have a deadline on 11th August and have time until then, thanks to the High Court

The High Court has extended the deadline by putting pressure on the government

We can send our suggestions and the changes that we want in this draft to the government

We can send in our suggestions on this email id-

My first suggestion would be to write all that I have explained to you in this video in your own words

and then send it to the government on this email address

I know that not everyone has the time to read the 80 page draft,

so I have highlighted the points that are problematic in this document

and I have provided the link to this document in the description below

You can access it from there and take a look

You can figure out what these points mean for yourself

and what changes should be implemented by the government

If you do not have that much time, then I'd say you can copy paste suggestions

of the people who have read the entire draft properly

I'm providing a similar link of environmental activists in the description below, who have

clear cut mentioned the changes that should be implemented by the government

You can copy paste that as well. I have provided the link for that in the description below

There would be around a million of us who would watch this video

Think about it- if every person watching this video sends an email to the government,

then how strong the power of one million of us can be!

How much pressure could be mounted on the government to bring about a change!

At the end of the day, this is not something that concerns only one or two people

or only one or the other political party

This is something that concerns every person living in the country

Tomorrow, a disaster like the ones that have already happened can happen right outside your homes

When forests in the country get cleared, when the air gets polluted, it affects all of us

It would ultimately affect all of us for sure

This is why it is extremely important

Share this video so that this information reaches more and more people

If you like my work, you can support me on

or by becoming a member on YouTube by clicking on the join button

so that I may continue to make such educational, informative and useful videos for you in the future

This is a topic that the mainstream media does not even talk about!

All the important topics are kept away from the mainstream media

It is very surprising, indeed!

We will meet again in the next video

Thank you

The Description of How EIA 2020 will Damage India! | Dhruv Rathee