5 National Party Leaders urge Environment Minister to withhold amendment to EIA Notification

*Controversial Draft Notification lapses in two days*
With two days to go before the proposed controversial amendment to the EIA Notification lapses, pressure is mounting on Minister of Environment & Forests Shri. A. Raja to hold off on signing the Notification.

Shri. Debobrata Biswas, MP (Rajya Sabha) and General Secretary, All India Forward Bloc, has written to Shri. Raja in support of CEJI's stands "against the undemocratic manner in which Ministry of Environment and Forests is pushing through an anti-environment, anti-poor, version of Environment Impact Assessment Notification. Joining other MPs, he has urged the Minister to "rescind from issuing such type of notifications and consider the concerns expressed by the civil society organization and environmental activists". (copy of letter enclosed).

The leader of the All India Forward Bloc thus joins National leaders of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Pattal Makkal Katchi, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Samajwadi Party, in urging the Union to not succumb to bureaucratic pressures from within his ministry and open up the Notification for public consultation and debate.

The proposed amendment to the EIA Notification is almost entirely based on demands of industry and infrastructure developers in the country. Admittedly the Ministry has consulted key industry associations in the finalisation of the notification, after the due period for consultation is over, and on the instructions received from the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. This step of exclusively consulting the very sector that needs to be regulated presents a clear case of bias on the part of the Ministry.

*In this context CEJI condemns the reported comments of the Ministry that apart from industry associations, any other sector or representative organisation or individual had "no substantive suggestions to make" and that there was "little scope to further discuss their inputs". *This clearly demonstrates the condescending attitude the Ministry holds for the opinion of the wide public and exposes its attempts at consultation as a mere charade. _This shocking statement must be read as an expression of the Ministry's contempt for Parliamentary privilege, given the fact that all Parliamentary leaders who have issued letters in support of CEJI stand have stressed the need for wider debates and especially in Parliament_.

*Keeping this in view, CEJI has urged Union Minister for Environment and Forests to protect the privileged position of the Parliament and ensure that no slur is cast in any manner on this august i**nst**itution, merely in meeting the machinations of his bureaucracy that is intent on weakening India's environmental regulatory mechanism in favour of those sectors that compromise the environmental and livelihood security of our country. *

In this context, Campaign for Environmental Justice -- India demands that the revised draft of the proposed amendment to the EIA Notification is kept in abeyance till such time the demands of Parliamentarians and the wide public, as articulated, are fully met.

Leo F. Saldanha (Environment Support Group) and Kanchi Kohli (Kalpavriksh -- Delhi)

*On behalf of Campaign for Environmental Justice -- **India***
Manshi Asher (National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune), Nityanand Jayaraman (Corporate Accountability Desk, Chennai); Latha A. (Chalakudy River Protection Committee, Thrissur); Samir Mehta (Bombay Environment Action Group); Syed Liyakath (Equations, Bangalore); Seerat Kacchap (BIRSA, Jharkand); Deepankar Dutta (Samatha, Hyderabad); Bharat Jairaj (Citizens Action Group, Chennai) and others.

[CEJI is a network of voluntary organizations, movements, project affected communities, NGOs, research organizations and individuals working to address diverse environmental and social justice threats and challenges in India]

*Contact Address:*

Environment Support Group ®, 105, East End B Main Road, Jayanagar 9th
Block East, Bangalore 560069.INDIA Tel: 91-80-22441977/26531339 Fax:
26534364 Email: esg@esgindia.org or
esg@bgl.vsnl.net.in Web: www.esgindia.org