August 4th, 2020: 20+ Law College student councils and legal aid clinics, over 150 independent law students, 70+ other student councils and clubs, and more than 1,600 individual students pan-India have sent a 22-page detailed letter to the MOEFCC seeking the withdrawal of the draft EIA 2020. The letter, drafted by the Legal Aid Clinic of Jindal Global Law School, contains suggestions for each sub-clause of the draft EIA 2020 draft that the students oppose. The movement, coordinated by The Yugma Network and Youth For Swaraj, includes student groups from colleges such NLUD, NLSIU, NALSAR, DSNLU, Amity University, NLU’s and NUALS, to name just a few.
Committed to the environmental diversity and health of the nation, it is a matter of concern that such amendments, which will leave the earth uninhabitable for future generations, are being considered. It is out of this concern that the students have written to the MOEFCC once again.
In the letter, the students say,
“We certainly have a lot to learn from other jurisdictions. On a comparative analysis of EIA regulations in India with countries of the EU and the USA, it can be observed that the process in India deliberately limits the involvement of public and government agencies in the initial stages and has no provision to account for landscape and visual impacts of a project.” The students suggest that India should implement an environmental policy that follows the Principle 10 of the Rio declaration – the right to freely access information on environmental quality and problems, the right to participate meaningfully in decision-making, and the right to seek enforcement of environmental laws or compensation for harm.
On 25th June 2020 the students, coordinated by Yugma Network, sent an email to the MOEFCC with their concerns regarding the EIA 2020. The letter was signed by 60+ student unions from across India. However, after not receiving a reply, they sent another letter to the PMO on 28th June with the signature of 80+ student unions. They also filed multiple grievance complaints on the MyGov portal, but these were all rejected.
Some of the suggestions by the students include: keeping a flexible time period for public consultation with a minimum of 60 days, mandating a consultation method that requires a participatory approach of programmed implementation with equal opportunity for every stakeholder to voice their opinions for all projects, abolishing Post-Facto Clearance (already struck down as illegal by the Supreme Court), refining the basis on which industries are categorised to include environmental impact, making compliance procedures more structured and strict, increasing penalties for defaulters, making compliance reports public, and setting up an independent ‘Environment Regulator” body.
Having previously written to both the MOEFCC and the PMO, the students await a response from the Government in the hope that their futures will not be compromised and sold to large private investors in the name of development. As members of society who will be most affected by these decisions and as voices of the future, the youth of India wish to be heard and included in policymaking discussions to lead India into a Green Recovery.