Karnataka HC extends stay on publication of final EIA 2020

South India
Typography

Observing that prime facie that the Right of Citizens to file objection has been taken away, the court on August 5 restrained the Centre from publishing the final notification till the next date of hearing on the PIL petition.

 

The Karnataka high court on Monday, September 7, extended the stay on the publication of the final notification based on the draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification 2020 by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change until further orders.

According to livelaw, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka extended the interim order passed on August 5 after the Centre did not file its response on Monday. The order came on a petition filed by United Conservation Movement Charitable and Welfare Trust, Bengaluru, seeking a stay on the draft EIA-2020 complaining that notification was not published in Kannada language.

Observing that prime facie that the Right of Citizens to file objection has been taken away, the court on August 5 restrained the Centre from publishing the final notification based on the draft notification of the EIA-2020 till the next date of hearing on the PIL petition.

The bench had ordered the interim stay after noting that the Covid-19 lockdown had deprived people of effective opportunities to submit their responses and objections to the draft. The bench had also noted that the draft notification was not published in Kannada language.

The court had, however, clarified that the Ministry could take all further steps based on the draft EIA-2020 except issuing final notification, and the Ministry could move the court for vacating the order against publishing the final notification if reasonable time to file objections and suggestions were provided after publicising draft EIA-2020 in Kannada language.

According to a report in The Hindu, the draft EIA-2020, dated March 23, 2020, gave 60 days as per the law for public and other stakeholders to submit objections and suggestions. Later, taking note of COVID-19 lockdown, the last date to respond was initially extended till June 30, and again extended till August 11.

The Bench, however, noted that Ministry’s counsel could not give a positive assurance on behalf of the Ministry that a reasonable time would be given to submit objections and suggestions after publicising the notification in Kannada.

The Bench noted that many people, not knowing English and Hindi languages, could not have responded in view of the lockdown and non-availability of notification in Kannada.

Earlier, the Ministry’s counsel said that a proposal to extend the August 11 deadline to submit objections and suggestions is being considered and a decision is expected shortly and clarified that the Ministry was committed to giving wide publicity for the draft EIA-2020.

It was also contended on behalf of the Ministry that the draft notification was required to be published in the official gazette only in English and Hindi languages, and the Ministry had already directed all the State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities to publicise the draft EIA-2020 in local languages, including in Kannada, which could not be done so far owing to constraints of COVID-19 pandemic (with inputs from Livelaw)

 

All Comments