9th May, 2020
SWARAJ INDIA WARNS AGAINST DRAFT EIA 2020 – EASE OF DOING BUSINESS CANNOT OVERTAKE PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT & LIFE
-We express extreme sorrow at the heartbreaking loss of precious lives due to gas leak at Visakhapatnam – it is a Disaster by Design: Yogendra Yadav, President, Swaraj India
-Encouraging Companies to violate laws for protecting environment is anti-national and war against humanity: Anupam, National Spokesperson, Swaraj India
Delhi, 9th May, 2020: On the morning of 7th May, 2020, while we as a nation were busy tackling Corona pandemic, we received unfortunate news from Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh of a gas leakage from LG Polymers factory situated on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam. A poisonous gas named Styrene leaked from the company’s plant and spread over a 5-km radius of its vicinity, affecting around 2,000 locals of five villages. As per media reports, over 800 people had to be hospitalized out of which while 12 people have already lost their lives and 325 people are still undergoing treatment. Experts have said that Styrene Gas is cancerous in nature and can also cause great damage to the nervous system of the affected people.
LG Polymers is a South Korean company which has for long received protection from successive governmnets in India. The company has itself in an affidavit, submitted to the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) on 10.05.2019, accepted that it didn’t have any Environmental Clearance (EC) before setting up or expanding its chemical plant. Though this was in clear violation of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006, no action was taken against the company either by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh or the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). Even without any EC, this plant, situated in close proximity to residential and populated areas, was granted approvals to start and expand by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB).
While this incident has received much attention from media, it should not be confused as a rare one; at least 30-40 similar incidents have happened in Vishakhapatnam itself in the past and all have them have gone unpunished. Through a simple Google search one can find at least 25 such incidents across the nation in the last 12 months. However, the significance of this incident lies in the fact that it has revealed the level of inadequacy and non-compliance of the existing EIA notification of 2006, at a time when MoEF&CC has come up with a draft EIA notification of 2020, which, instead of addressing the fallacies in the existing notification, further dilutes and degrades its provisions.
The draft EIA 2020 proposes to give a free hand to Industries to go ahead with their projects even without any getting any Environmental Clearance; they are free to take it later and get away by paying some amount of fine. The draft also weakens the process of Public Consultation which is compulsory for almost all projects as per the current EIA law of 2006. Public Consultation is of a crucial nature in order to ascertain the environmental impact of any project upon the nearby area and the people living in such area. As per the draft law, projects of various industries have been excluded from the process of Public consultation including various hazardous industries which produce Soda Ash, Chemical Fertilizer, Acid, Pesticides, Fiber, Petroleum and Petro chemicals, Dyes, Synthetic, Paint, Biomedical waste treatment plant etc. Draft EIA 2020 further weakens the process of monitoring of projects with regard to their environmental compliance after they receive EC. It proposes to rely on self-certification by industries that they are complying with environmental laws.
By enacting the draft EIA notification of 2020, the MoEF&CC, in the name of “ease of doing business”, plans to dilute the environment clearance procedures, encourage polluting industries and make way for foreign companies like LG Polymers to set up their shops in the country, knowing well that even if they violate the law of the land, they will get protection from the official organs of the State. Such dilution of environmental laws is extremely dangerous as it will lead to a spree of such cases across India in which lakhs of innocent common people will lose their lives. In light of the current gas leak case in Vishakhapatnam, we can clearly see that the proposed amendments, if enacted, will make a perfect recipe for the next big environmental and public health disaster in India.
SwarajIndia expresses condolences to and solidarity with the families of people who have lost their lives in the recent gas leak and demands from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to stand true to its purpose and withdraw this draft EIA 2020. We also call upon the people to join the campaign against draft EIA 2020 and struggle for a safe environment.
For queries contact:
Ashutosh / +91 9999150812