The Khasi Students Union (KSU) expressed strong opposition against the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 citing that the move of the Centre to do away with the public consultation could be an attempt to forcefully mine uranium in the state.
“We highly suspect that the move to do away with holding of public hearings or public consultations is an attempt to mine uranium,” KSU chief Lambokstar Marngar told reporters at the sidelines of a function to mark the 185th death anniversary of the Khasi freedom fighter U Tirot Sing Syiem on Friday.
Marngar said the EIA is against the unique land tenure system in the state as well as the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
The EIA Notification, 2020 has been uploaded on the Environment Ministry website on March 12, seeking public comments.
He also slammed the state government and the three autonomous district council (ADCs) for keeping quiet on this issue. “We urge them to be more vigilant and ensure the Centre is not allowed to implement laws which go against the interest of the people and the state,” Marngar said.
The KSU chief also reminded that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed by the Centre despite the stiff opposition from the people of the region. “It seems that the Centre is attempting to bulldoze the tribal rights through such legislations and if this is the trend, we will be compelled to fight against these attempts to wipe out the identity of the indigenous people,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the KSU has demanded the Centre to immediately withdraw the proposed amendments of the draft EIA notification 2020.
In a letter to the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar on Friday, the KSU said, “We request the ministry to immediate withdraw the proposed amendments of the draft EIA notification, 2020 and consider reissuing the draft only after health condition related to the pandemic COVID-19 and the civic life is normalized across the nation.”
According to the Union, the proposed draft will further affect the ecological balance of the state by diluting the stringent laws to protect the environment.
On the proposed exemption of large industries (B2 category) from public consultation, the KSU said that such exemptions are inexplicable and baffling, considering that many of these projects are meant for the public from whom this information will be hidden and subdue.
It also goes against International Environmental Laws and agreements like the Stockholm Declaration, 1972, the Rio Declaration, 1992 and the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) – 25 held in 2019.
“Several red and orange industries have been moved from Category A (which needs expert appraisal) to Category B1 or B2 which have lesser EIA processes and B2 industries don’t need public consultation or EAC reports. These include, but are not limited to: chemical manufacturing and petroleum products, modernization of irrigation, buildings, construction and area development, inland waterways, expansion or widening of national highways, all projects concerning national defense and security or involving ‘other strategic considerations’ as determined by Central Government,” the letter said.