News: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has granted an interim stay on the operation of an office memorandum issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- The memorandum provided a procedure for the grant of post facto clearance to projects that have come up without environmental clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006.
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006 mandated prior clearance, and there was no provision for the grant of post facto clearance under the EIA notification.
- The memorandum provided a backdoor entry to violators. By way of the memorandum, violators of the EIA notification could obtain clearance and regularise violations. The ex-post facto clearance is also alien to the environmental jurisprudence. It was also against the principles of natural justice, and the right of the people to participate in environmental decision-making. It was also violative of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- The EIA was an important tool to ensure the optimal use of natural resources for sustainable development.
- Its purpose was to identify, examine, assess and evaluate the likely and probable impact of a proposed project on the environment.
- Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, India notified its first EIA norms in 1994, setting in place a legal framework for regulating activities that access, utilise, and affect (pollute) natural resources.
- Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance ever since. The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006.