ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Meenakshi KapoorSubscribe to Meenakshi Kapoor

The Road Ahead for Environmental Impact Assessment in India

One of the most contentious changes proposed in the draft environmental impact assessment notification, 2020 in India is the circumvention of public consultations for the expansion of projects for up to 50% of their original capacity. Similar exemption from public hearing, albeit for 40% capacity expansion, has been permitted as a special case for the coal mining sector since 2017. The minutes of the meetings of the coal mining expert appraisal committee between August 2017 and January 2021, which reviewed the requests for coal mine expansion, are analysed herein. It was found that the expert appraisal committees had effectively sidelined the environmental- and non-compliance-related concerns and that the review and approval process was influenced by the pressure from external stakeholders with vested interests.

Why Do Institutions Shy Away from Action?

Coastal zone management authorities—which were created for the implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone notifications to regulate the use of space for the entire coastline of India at the state level—are relinquishing their powers. Across coastal states, a particular diffidence is seen in taking cognisance of CRZ violations and addressing them. First, when does an institution refuse to use the powers assigned to it? Is it when the powers to enforce are not balanced by protection to them? Or is it when there is a lack of political will? Second, are the instances of inaction borne out of a fear of backlash or a sheer lack of leadership amongst the members to take bold decisions? The paper concludes with identifying a few of the factors that can make the institutions act.
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