Press Release: Youth Solidarity Against EIA Notification 2020

First published in Sanctuary Asia, Vol. 40 No. 6, June 2020

New Delhi, June 25, 2020: Over 50 University student unions, college environment clubs, and other youth groups from around India (Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Telangana, West Bengal, Punjab, Goa, Pondicherry, MP, UP, Haryana, Odisha, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and more) have stood in solidarity to condemn the passing of the EIA Notification 2020, demanding that it be put on hold and rewritten as per recommendations by environmental experts to lead India into a green recovery. 

In an initiative spearheaded by the Environment Ministry of Ashoka University and led by 20-year-old Anjali Dalmia, a comprehensive letter signed by student groups (including AISA, Youth4Swaraj, JNUSU, IISER, Jain University, Jindal Global Law School and many more) has been sent to the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, led by Shri Prakash Javadekar, addressing their concerns regarding the new EIA Draft Notification 2020.

“We should use the EIA to bring India out of the COVID-19 pandemic as an environmentally aware country through a green recovery. While economic revival is a national priority, this should be done without compromising the environment and society, as in the long run, it is our natural ecosystem which will support us”, said Dalmia.

The students say, to ensure long-term prosperity and peace, it is imperative that the MoEFCC work with the citizens of this country, rather than in conflict, to implement policies that aid all communities and citizens and conserve the natural life in India. 

Over the last 50 years, around 50 million people in India have been displaced due to development projects. Dams, mines, industrial development and others account for over 21 million development induced IDP. (source)

The youth of India, whose future will be directly impacted by decisions made today, strongly believe that the current amendments to the EIA pose a serious threat to the environment and society, giving a free reign to several businesses and destructive industries such as mining and construction. 

“In recent months/years, we have observed the effects of a weak environmental policy. Mumbai’s Aarey forest was cleared to build a metro shed despite massive protests. Vizag’s LG Polymers caused a gas leak on May 7. Assam’s Baghjan gas leak is another recent example. Land was cleared to extend the ports in Goa regardless of protests in 2016. Despite the obvious improvement of rivers and lowered pollution levels during the lockdown period, the MOEFCC is still approving destructive projects,” said Taanika Shankar and Smruthi Ananth, members of the Sustainability Committee at Azim Premji University UG. 

The new EIA Draft Notification intends to bring in controversial amendments such as post-facto grant of approval, exemption of several large industries from public hearings, permission for industries to submit just one compliance report a year rather than two, increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects and river valley projects, and many more. 

As citizens of this great country and current stakeholders, we have many reasons to care about our environment. As we emerge from COVID-19, we need to make a choice about what kind of India we wish to live in. Our youth have decided to grow up on a land which has thriving forests and clean rivers, a balanced economy that places importance on sustainability and communities, and a system of policy-making that promotes dialogue with the citizens of India.

Now it’s your turn to make a choice. The youth of India ask for your support to make India green.

Tarang, the Environment Ministry of Ashoka University, is an initiative of the Student Government at Ashoka University. Both Tarang and the team solely advocate for the support of the unions (that have signed the email attached below) towards this statement only. Similarly, the email which has been sent comes only from a group of concerned youth and is not politically motivated in any way whatsoever.

View the email that is being sent tomorrow to the MoEFCC with the list of unions.

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