The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to environmental conservationist Vikrant Tongad after the Centre filed a review petition against an order to translate the draft Environmental Impact Assessment notification into 22 vernacular languages, PTI reported. The Centre had initially filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, but it was withdrawn with liberty to file a review plea.
In its June 30 judgement, the High Court had extended the time in which to reply or raise objections to the draft till August 11. It had also directed the environment ministry to translate the draft notification in all the 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution within 10 days of the verdict.
Tongad had urged the court for publication of the draft environmental policy guideline in multiple languages. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan sought his response in the case by September 23.
The Centre had opposed Tongad’s petition, saying it was “beyond practices” to publish such notification in all vernacular languages. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has put on hold any contempt proceedings against the government till the review plea is settled.
The EIA, 2020
The EIA draft has been widely criticised for its problematic changes in rules. Experts say most of the provisions in the new draft is a regressive departure from the earlier version.
The new updates to the draft notification prescribe the procedure for industries to assess the ecological and environmental impact of their proposed activity and the mechanism, whereby these would be assessed by expert committees appointed by the environment ministry.
It prevents the proposed activity or project from being approved without proper oversight or taking adverse consequences into account.
Some of the criticism includes that the draft notification does away with the requirement for public consultation for a number of projects. Agencies affiliated to the Centre had earlier this month blocked the websites of some environmental organisations that have opposed the draft EIA 2020.