The Draft EIA Notification: Comparison of the Draft EIA Notification, 2020 and the Zero Draft of the EIA Notification, 2019

In mid-2020, the High Court of Delhi ordered the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to, among other things, give wide publicity to the Draft Environmental Impact Notification, 2020 so that citizens would be in a position to engage, even during the pandemic. In their statement of objection, the Ministry claims to have adequately circulated a Zero Draft of the EIA Notification. However, the Zero Draft of 2019 and the Draft EIA 2020 Notification are significantly different and cannot be considered as the same document. The 2020 draft notification has many additional provisions which were not present in the Zero Draft of 2019, such as post-facto clearances, introduction of environmental permission for B2 category projects, blanket exemption to projects applying for expansion or modernisation with capacity enhancement upto 50% from public consultation process, reduced notice period for holding public hearing and a reduced frequency for submission of Post-EC compliance reports by the project proponent. This brief highlights some of the major differences between the Zero Draft of 2019 and Draft Notification of 2020 and provides a clause-by clause comparison of the two drafts.