Shillong, Nov 10: Meghalaya minister in-charge Forests and Environment James Sangma said that the state has submitted its views regarding the draft EIA 2020, but added that it will leave the decision on post-facto clearance clauses to the central government.
The Environment Minister was responding to a question by Congress MLA Mayralborn Syiem seeking the stand of the government on the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020.
The Congress MLA from Nongpoh raised the issue of the post-facto clearance clause – which has been allowed in the draft EIA 2020 – during the question hour on Day 3 of the autumn session of Meghalaya Assembly.
Syiem stated that the draft EIA 2020 is an attempt by the centre to weaken environmental regulation and silence affected committees.
“The draft seems to favor industries and seem to neglect the balance between sustainable development and environmental protection, where projects can be undertaken without clearance under the EIA 2020, this is anti-people & anti-environment. What is the stand of the Meghalaya Government – especially for a state with uranium ore?” he said.
Replying to the same, Minister in-charge Forests and Environment James Sangma said the state government has submitted its views regarding the draft EIA 2020, which includes restoring of 45 days instead of 40 for public consultation, restoration of 30 days notice to public, restoration of exemption for mining leases to be provided to projects from 0-5 hectares.
Congress MLA Dr. Ampareen Lyngdoh questioned as to if the government consulted with environmental experts and civil societies before submitting their suggestions, to which the minister said that the government has forwarded letters received by NGOs to the central government.
On the other hand, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma pointed out that receiving EIA clearance doesn’t mean that any project can commence. He said that multiple clearances have to be obtained before projects get the go-ahead.
“EIA is just one part of the entire process of getting a project through. Anyway, point is we will be here to protect the interest of our people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the environment minister informed that since 2008, 160 clearances have been granted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA).