Environmentalists on Thursday said the draft EIA notification must be translated into all Indian languages so that everyone gets an equal opportunity to comment on it.
In the last few months, the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification proposed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has drawn flak from experts and activists alleging that it diluted various provisions.
Avinash Chanchal, climate campaigner at Greenpeace India, said, "Since this draft EIA 2020 is going to impact a vast range of communities, translation of draft into all indian languages must be done so that everyone has an equal opportunity to comment on the draft."
Sharing a similar view, Yash Marwah from environmental collective Let India Breathe said it's sad that the ministry did not translate the draft into other languages.
"We create content in multiple languages. It is weird that despite the Delhi High Court order the government has not translated it. More than two million people have already opposed it and if it is translated in more languages, the opposition will only grow," Marwah said.
The Delhi High Court on June 30 had directed the Ministry of Environment to translate the draft in official vernacular languages mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
The ministry, however, approached the Supreme Court against the order which was "dismissed as withdrawn" on Thursday.
The ministry said the plea filed in the Delhi High Court seeking translation of the draft was against the Constitution.
"We challenged it in the Supreme Court which has asked us to go to the high court again. In our view it (the plea) is against the constitutional scheme. It is also against the official languages Act. We will file the review plea in the high court," Environment Secretary R P Gupta told PTI.
He asserted that Article 343 of the Constitution says the official language of the Union government would be Hindi.
"English has been permitted only as special cases," he said.
Environment lawyer Vikrant Tongad, the petitioner who had moved the high court seeking translation of the draft, had also moved contempt petition against the ministry after it did not comply with the Delhi High Court order.
The Supreme Court has stayed the petition.
"There are 22 languages in the 8th schedule of the Constitution.The draft EIA must be translated into these languages. We sought that and approached the high court but the ministry did not comply despite orders. We then moved contempt of court petition against the ministry for non compliance," Tongad told PTI.
"They (ministry) went to the Supreme Court against the decision of the high court. The apex court refused to hear their plea and asked them to move the review plea in the high court. We are happy with the top court's order," he added.
According to Environment Secretary Gupta, more than 15 lakh emails and letters have been received by the ministry from the public on the draft.
He said 99 per cent of the mails/letters are repetitive and have the same issues.
When asked whether there is any support received by the ministry on the draft, he said, We have to go through that.
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