India Is Back To A Time Before The Bhopal Gas Tragedy

I wrote today’s piece — for Article 14 — after reading a comparison between the draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification (2020) and its forerunner, the 2006 notification.

Such analysis is problematic. It suffers from what George Monbiot called the ‘Shifting Baseline Syndrome’ — of assuming what we inherited was ‘normal’ and everything thereafter is a change. In reality, the 2006 notification was a diluted version of the first EIA notification (1994), and our terrain of usurped environmental rights runs deeper. And the total of these usurpations is the total evaporation of Indians’ hard-won environmental rights over the last 35 years.

Take the recent LG Polymers leak in Visakhapatnam. As I write: “That night in Visakhapatnam, India witnessed the effects of successive dilutions of EIA law. When a poisonous gas leaks, from a poorly maintained industrial unit operating without an environment clearance in the midst of residential neighbourhoods, it invites more than comparisons with Union Carbide. It forces the belated recognition that, in terms of effective protection against industrial pollution, India is back where she was before the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.”

It’s that landscape of lost rights that I try to describe in today’s piece — focusing, ergo, on both dilutions and ignored suggestions for improvement. Do read:

ps: This report has since been cross-posted on Newsclick as well.

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