National Campaign for Environmental Justice in India (CEJ-I)

7th Sep 2006: Appeal to support the campaign to stop the amendment of the EIA Notification (slated to be legislated on September 15th, 2006)
You can use this representation to Shri. Raja written by CEJ-I as the basis for your letter.

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Since mid-2004, a nation wide effort has been made by various organisations and researchers addressing the Ministry of Environment and Forest over

  • its aggressive and mindless promotion of “development” that threaten wildlife, environment and human rights,
  • the secrecy by which it is pushing though a series of policy and legislative changes in environmental clearance processes.

This network has written a series of open letters to the Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office protesting this trend.

CEJ-I is an outgrowth of all these efforts and represents the concerns of about 150 organisations, networks, movements and researchers.

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Amendment to the EIA Notification

7th Sep 2006: Act now to ensure that India’s environment is protected, and that environmental decision-making continues to be democratic! Write to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Appeal to support the campaign to stop the EIA amendment. You can use this representation to Shri. Raja written by CEJ-I as the basis for your letter.

The EIA Notification (1994), legislated under the Environment Protection Act (1986) is responsible for ensuring that developmental projects (industries and infrastructure like dams, mines, refineries, large commercial complexes, highways, power projects, etc.) account for their environmental impacts as part of their planning and design processes. The notification specifies the process of obtaining Environmental Clearance (EC) for such projects, and also provides for the only element of public participation that there is in the entire process — such public input is critical, among other things, for example, in ensuring that the sustenance of communities that live in the project area are not threatened.

The EC process process involves Statutory Public Hearings based on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, clearance by Pollution Control Boards and Expert Committees, Forest Advisory Boards (if forest lands are involved), etc. This is the only legislation that actually provides affected communities and the wide public some scope in influencing the final outcome of the decision. Not everything is okay with the existing legislation, and it needs to be rewritten to strengthen the quality of information processed, participation ensured and ability of the regulatory system to ensure conditions imposed are met with. The MoEF is now set to bring in a comprehensive amendment to the EIA Notification, and has admittedly finalized it mainly with input from industry associations. As a result, it is likely that projects will get cleared speedily with little regard to peoples concerns and environmental and social impacts. Members of Parliament have written to the Prime Minister and Environment Minister to put the amendments on hold and pass it only after debating it in Parliament, with the State Governments, Local Governments and the wide public. Yet MoEF is intent on pushing ahead with this amendment.

CEJ-I has been actively fighting for the cause of Environmental Justice through meeting Parliamentarians, writing open letters to relevant ministers, having press releases etc to keep the issues alive. Early August 2006, CEJ-I has met Shri.Raja, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Ms.Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Congress-I, Mr.P.G.Narayanan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Forests, and Mr. Prithviraj Chauhan, Minister of State attached to Prime Ministers Office in August 2006. They all expressed their shock at the non-participative nature of the decision making process and said they would address the issue. CEJI has been following up on these commitments since.

Later in the month of August 2006, it was realized that the EIA Notification was being pushed through in violation of the assurances by Shri Raja. CEJ-I brought this to the notice of the press and the parliamentarians. Mr.P.G.Narayanan wrote a strong letter to the Prime Minster at once condemning this absolute violation. Other MPs like Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M)Ramji Lal Suman (Samajwadi Party), and Dr.S.Ramadoss (PMK) also expressed their deep concern over the non-participative nature of the process and the diluted version of the EIA Notification through letters to the PM. CEJ-I then wrote a letter to Shri. Raja on 5th September 2006, forwarding the concerns of the parliamentarians.

MoEF Chalo: Storming of the MoEF in November 2005 in protest

MoEF Suno: Public Hearing in Delhi: Nov 13-14, 2005

Recently, this network has evolved into a Campaign for Environmental Justice in India. On November 13th and 14th 2005, this campaign is organizing a public hearing in New Delhi to take stock of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification and Environmental Clearance Process in India.

Open Letters written to the Ministry (2004 – 2005)

Other documents

Related Press Clippings

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