Following concerns expressed over the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020,
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday assured the House that the government will protect the interest of the state
“We have the land transfer act and the autonomous district councils and it does not mean it (EIA) can bypass as there are laws to protect our land. The point is that we will be here to protect the interest of our state,” Sangma said while replying in the Assembly.
The House was informed that a total of 160 environmental clearances were granted as part of the implementation of the EIA, 2006 notification from 2008 to 2020.
Of these, 95 (offline) environmental clearances were granted by the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA), 39 (offline), and 26 (online) by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
According to the chief minister, the environmental clearance is just one part of getting a project through.
The issue was raised during the question hour by the Congress legislator from Nongpoh, Mayralborn Syiem who has termed the draft EIA, 2020 as anti-people and anti-environment.
Seeking to know the stand of the state government in view that Meghalaya has a large deposit of uranium ore, Syiem alleged that the draft is an attempt to weaken the environment regulation as it seems to be in favour of the industries where projects can be taken up without any clearances.
Congress MLA also pointed out that the draft allows post facto clearance which means all projects can go ahead and obtain clearances later.
“This is a huge concern as we have seen the government of India pushing certain acts (like the CAA) by bulldozing and this will, directly and indirectly, has an impact on the society in the days to come since our state has uranium ore, which the government of India has been looking for so long. Therefore I want to get an assurance that the state government will uphold the rights of public participation in all projects especially with respect to uranium in particular,” he said.
Replying to this, Minister-in-charge of Forests & Environment, James K Sangma informed that the draft EIA, 2020 is a matter pending with the Government of India and that the state government had already submitted its views on the draft.
On the kind of projects being referred to the SEIAA, the minister however said the government of India has suspended the authority and now it is not in operation.
When Congress legislator from East Shillong, Ampareen Lyngdoh requested the state government to call for an all-party meeting to discuss and come up with comprehensive suggestions in view that the Bill is likely to be passed by the Centre, James however said that the process of consultation is over and the ball is now in the court of the government of India.
According to him, the views and suggestions submitted by several NGOs have also been forwarded to the government of India. EOM