What is difference in Public hearing procedure in India & Sri Lanka for clearance of environmental projects?
In India it is compulsory but not comes under a legislation by parliament. It comes under the EIA notification, which was actually ameded in 1997 and Public Hearing was introduced as a part of the assessment procedure.
Practically, proceedings of the public hearing are seldom acted upon by the implementing agency. In most cases, objections raised at the public hearing not taken note of and acted upon . They are routine things and don’t impact the environment clearence which the projects get.
The details about the notification are here: http://www.envfor.nic.in/legis/eia/so-60(e).html
In Sri Lanka Public Hearing is a part of a legislation (not constitution, as far as I know) and that seems to be the only country in south Asia which Incorporates Public hearing in a EIA legislation. In Bhutan it is nominal. In Nepal also EIA has public hearing but no legislation mentions strictlly.
The Sri Lankan constitution has these directive principles:
- (11) The State shall create the necessary economic and social environment to enable people of all religious faiths to make a reality of their religious principles.
- (12) The State shall recognize and protect the family as the basic unit of society.
- (13) The State shall promote with special care the interests of children and youth, so as to ensure their full development, physical, mental, moral, religious and social, and to protect them from exploitation and discrimination.
- (14) The State shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.
The law which administers EIA in Sri Lanka is National Environmental (Amendment) Act No. 56 of 1988. This law provided two step procedure. One is IEE (Initial Environmental Examination) that is shorter phase and another is EIA. The act provides that EIA reports must be kept open for public comments for 30 working days.
NEA by Act No 53 of 2000 whereby the public right to comment on IEE has been withdrawn so IEE reports have been exempted from this requirement. But, an Initial Environmental Examination report shall be deemed to be a public document for the purposes of sections 74 and 76 of the Evidence Ordinance (Chapter 21) and shall be open for inspection by the public. This is what this act says.