NEW DELHI : The Delhi High Court on Wednesday questioned the Center as to why it was resisting its order to translate the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in all 22 languages in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution. A Special Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked what the harm in translating the draft EIA in all 22 languages was, since government would have to understand the objections in local languages. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Center, replied it has already received 20 lakh responses till date to the draft EIA and therefore, there was no need to translate it in more languages.

The ASG said that translating the draft EIA in all 22 languages would create a lot of administrative problems as the government “does not have the wherewithal to carry out the translations”.

“It will be administratively chaotic,” the ASG said, adding that even the Constitution does not say that the notification has to be translated in all the languages.

The High Court, however, did not agree with the stand. “In modern day it cannot be a factually impossible task”, the High Court said while directing the government to explain the difficulties it has in translating the draft EIA in all languages.

It posted the case for further hearing on February 25.

The High Court was hearing the Centre’s plea seeking review of its June 30, 2020 direction to the Environment Ministry to translate the draft EIA notification in all the 22 languages.

The June 30, 2020 order had come on a petition by environmental conservationist Vikrant Tongad, seeking publication of the notification in all vernacular languages and also extension of the time to receive public comments on it.

The draft EIA notification 2020 has several substantive new features and supersedes the EIA Notification 2006.

“This draft notification proposes significant changes to the existing regime, including removing public consultation entirely in certain instances, reducing the time for public consultation from 45 days to 40 days, and allowing post facto approvals for projects,” Mr. Todgad said.

“Such a significant set of changes is bound to affect the public and members of communities in virtually all aspects of life, and they have a right to meaningfully respond to the same,” his plea had said. (Courtesy-The Hindu)

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