The Centre on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it was willing to publish the draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 in all the 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan was informed by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma that the Centre has in-principle agreed to translate the draft EIA in all 22 languages and sought four weeks to complete the process. The High Court recorded the ASG’s statement and granted the time sought, listing the matter for October 21.

The ASG along with Centre’s standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia said that since the draft has to be translated in so many languages, it will take some time to arrange for logistics, including translators.

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The counsel said the government did not want to pursue its review petition against the June 30, 2020 order directing the Environment Ministry to translate the draft EIA notification in all the 22 languages within 10 days of the order. The court had also extended till August 11, 2020 the time for receiving remarks from the public.

The court’s order had come on a PIL by environmental conservationist Vikrant Tongad, seeking publication of the notification in all regional languages and also extension of deadline for receiving public comments on it.

Time extension sought

The June 2020 order was initially challenged by the ministry in the Supreme Court which allowed the government to withdraw its appeal and instead file a review before the High Court. The apex court also put on hold the proceedings in the contempt plea filed by Tongat for non-compliance of the June 30, 2020 direction.

The draft EIA 2020, according to Tongad’s plea, provides for post facto approval of projects and does away with public consultation in some cases. The petition by Tongad had claimed that the draft EIA 2020 completely supersedes and replaces the existing environmental norms.

“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,” it had said.