The Union environment ministry has stopped sharing data on environmental impact of projects on its website Parivesh since September, reported the Hindustan Times.

The website was launched in 2018 and is an acronym for Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window Hub. It provided status of proposals, including those related to environment, forest, wildlife and coastal regulation zone clearances of infrastructure projects, at each stage of processing.

It also provided agenda and minutes of the meetings of the ministry, fact sheets with details of the project including expected impact on wildlife, forests and ecology, reported Hindustan Times.

In September, the ministry decided to stop sharing details on how the projects are impacting the environment, saying that they would only be provided when sought under the Right To Information Act.

An unidentified environment ministry official told the Hindustan Times that the details contain sensitive information related to companies whose interests need to be protected.

“General public cannot access the agenda or minutes of meetings held by the Forest Advisory Committee, the Expert Appraisal Committee or new wildlife clearance proposals because Parivesh 2.0 has been aligned with the RTI Act,” the official told the newspaper. “Several sections of the RTI Act now apply to this information including section 8 on Exemption from disclosure of information.”

The official also said that information pertaining to the agenda, minutes of various clearances has been aligned with the RTI Act because companies share important economic and other information with the Centre.

“We often ask for say balance sheets, cost-benefit analysis etc that companies do not wish to make public,” the official added. “We have to respect their interests.”

Section 8 (1) (e) of the Right To Information Act states that information available to a person in their fiduciary relationship need not be disclosed, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.

Section 8 (1) (j) of the Act states that personal information, which is not related to public activity, need not be disclosed if it causes unwarranted invasion of privacy unless the contempt authority feels that it needs to be disclosed for larger public interest.