Veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to direct the authorities concerned to withdraw the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 as, he claimed, it would lead to serious ecological harm in the Himalayan region.
"If this proposed draft EIA becomes an Act, it will seriously harm all ecological aspects of the region. The whole world is facing the problem of climate change due to destruction of our natural resources, including biodiversity and as a result of this, there has been alarming melting of Himalayan Glaciers continuously," Gogoi said in the letter.
The former chief minister claimed that the EIA 2020 will lead to loss of biodiversity, erosion of soil, destruction of water resources, degrading of soil fertility, decrease of groundwater level and increase in pollution.
He claimed that the draft EIA 2020 released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has attracted the wrath of the public from not only Assam or the North-Eastern region but also the entire Himalayan region such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Climate change is also one of the major causes for large-scale flood and erosion in the North East, he said. Gogoi said that more than 130 people have lost their lives in flood-related incidents and landslides this year in Assam.
"It will ultimately have negative impact on health and economical activities in the region and will lead to starvation, unemployment too. Today there has been emphasis on sustainable economic development by taking effective steps to maintain ecological balance," the letter read.
"This notification has given unlimited power to the authority to take any kind of steps which will be harmful to safeguard our natural resources. Such arbitrary power is likely to be misused by big corporate groups," Gogoi said.
It needs to be "scrapped in order to save our million poor and vulnerable people and the country as a whole," he said in the letter.
The three-time former chief minister requested the prime minister to issue necessary instructions to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to withdraw the EIA Notification 2020.
The draft EIA intends to bring in several controversial amendments such as post-facto grant of approval, exemption of several large industries from public hearings and reducing the time for public consultation to 40 days from 45 days.
A large number of people protested against the EIA 2020 in Assam primarily due to the exemption of public consultation for many projects falling in 'Border Areas', which is defined as an area falling within 100 km aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India.
This has practically brought most of Assam and North East under the 'Border Area' category, protesters claimed.