Draft EIA: SC Refuses Centre’s Challenge To Delhi HC Translation Order, Stays Contempt Case Against Centre

by Sidharth Pandey 1 year ago Views 3599

Draft EIA: SC Refuses To Centre’s Challenge To Del
The Supreme Court on Thursday ‘dismissed as withdrawn’ a petition by the Union Environment ministry challenging the Delhi High Court order which had asked for the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification to be translated into 22 Indian languages within 10 days.

The Delhi High Court had on June 30 asked the centre to get the draft EIA printed in languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, this has however not happened.

"The proposed changes in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) will be catastrophic for the environment," Vikrant Tongad, conservationist & the lead petitioner in the Delhi High Court told GoNews today. "The changes will have an impact across India not only to the environment but to the health of the people and that’s why the Delhi High Court order asking for the language translations in 22 Indian languages was critical so that people can understand what the changes to the environmental law will do", Tongad said.

Interestingly, while the Environment Ministry had initially informed the Delhi High Court that orders had been given to print the language versions, it today informed the Supreme Court that there was no legal obligation to print the notification in other Indian languages as ordered by the Delhi High Court.

Chief Justice of India, Sharad Arvind Bobde, however, asked the Centre to look at the intent of the High Court order and in oral observations noted that "People of Karnataka, rural Maharashtra or other states may not be able to understand English or Hindi".

Tongad had filed a petition charging the Centre of contempt by not following the Delhi High Court order and publishing the draft EIA in local languages which is to come up in the High Court. The Supreme Court today while asking the Centre to file the review before the Delhi High Court, stayed contempt proceeding against the Centre till the High court had heard the review.

The Draft Environment Impact Assessment has become hugely controversial with environmentalists and even several political leaders maintaining that the proposed changes will allow industries to seek ‘post facto’ environmental clearances, which means that they can first expand certain kind of industrial facilities or set up certain kinds of new industry without prior EIA and seek this later. The Centre, however, maintains that the changes are aimed at improving transparency and ensuring timely disposal of applications for approval before the ministry.

The case for contempt is expected to come up on August 17 before the Delhi High Court.

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