Bengaluru 23 August, 2017 The controversial Environment Supplemental Plan (ESP) has been scrapped after the ministry received more than 25,000 comments showing its opposition, an RTI filed by Jhatkaa.org revealed.
The Ministry of Environment issued a draft notification on May 2016 detailing the Environment Supplemental Plan and sought public comments. The proposal was meant to allow companies violating environmental laws to continue work with just a fine.
More than a year ago, thousands of Jhatkaa.org members wrote to the ministry demanding withdrawal of the Environment Supplemental Plan, which would hurt many ecologically sensitive areas like the Western Ghats.
“When we read the government’s ESP draft notification, we knew it would be a disaster for our environment. We worked with issue experts like Adv. Ritwick Dutta, Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon from CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program and Terence Jorge from the EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC) to help us understand and simplify this report for our members. When our members realised what this proposal meant and the small window of opportunity that the comments period offered, they did not hold back,” said Tania Devaiah, former senior campaigner, Jhatkaa.org, who led the campaign at the time.
Jhatkaa.org filed an RTI in July 2016 asking the ministry about the outcome of the public consultation on the draft notification detailing the ESP. The RTI response was received after a year.
“The RTI response clearly mentioned that the ESP was scrapped because it received over 25,000 comments primarily opposing the idea, over 2000 of which can be tracked directly to Jhatkaa members. This is a huge victory because it helps ensure the integrity of the current environmental clearance process! It is extremely encouraging to know that the ministry has taken feedback from citizens very seriously in this case. It clearly shows that when issue experts, campaigners and citizens work together, we can even move the MoEFCC. This is how democracy should work,” she added.
In March this year, the environment ministry issued a fresh notification replacing the ESP idea with a one time, six-month window for project proponents who have not received environmental clearance to apply for post facto clearance. This new proposal too has been stayed by the Madras High Court.
Jhatkaa.org is a campaigning organisation committed to building grassroots citizen power across India in effective and innovative ways. Jhatkaa.org helps people take action collectively on issues that interest or affect them, and create change that would not be possible if they acted alone.
Jhatkaa.org also collaborates with civil society to engage citizens to hold corporate, cultural and government leaders accountable in real time at key decision moments through various digital communication platforms. Read more about Jhatkaa.org’s victories and press hits.
Source: RTI reply
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