NEW DELHI—The Madras High Court has asked the union environment ministry if it can publish the controversial draft law for environment clearance in Tamil to ensure that the people of Tamil Nadu also read and give their opinion about it.
The court asked this on Friday while hearing a petition filed by Meenava Thanthai K.R. Selvarajkumar Meenavar Nala Sangam—an environmental nonprofit based in the state capital Chennai.
This petition is slightly different from two previous ones filed in the Karnataka High Court and the Delhi High Court which also similarly sought more time for public consultation and publication of the draft EIA law in local languages.
The Madras HC petition is different on at least three significant grounds. It points out that Hindi and English are understood by “few people” in Tamil Nadu so not publishing the draft law in Tamil will be a “violation of natural justice” of the people. It also says that the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in Tamil Nadu has been extended till August 31 so it will be difficult to conduct public consultations about the proposed law and thus argues for preventing it from being made into law till consultations are carried out in Tamil. The petition also asserts that citizens will not be able to comply with their fundamental duties described under Article 51A(g) of the constitution in the absence of a translated edition in Tamil of the draft EIA notification 2020. The Article 51A(g) makes it a fundamental duty of Indian citizens to “protect and improve” the natural environment, and to have compassion for living creatures.
The Madras HC petition is different from those filed in Karnataka and Delhi on at least three significant grounds.
The Madras HC petition also pointed out that residents living in rural and forest areas have been unable to access the draft of the proposed law, which has only been uploaded online on a few central government websites, because they do not have access to the internet. So...