This article was first published in Travel Trends Today
First notified in 1994, by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, the notification mandated EIA for expansion or modernization of any activity or for setting up new projects listed in schedule of the notification. However, the notification was amended nearly twelve times, each time diluting the regulatory mandate of the notification. The MoEFCC carried out studies on the effectiveness of the 1994 notification and concluded that it was procedurally cumbersome, fraught with delays, requiring disproportionate amounts of details with each application, time consuming, and resulting in poor quality reports by consultants.
In 2006, the MoEFCC introduced a new EIA notification, replacing the 1994 (much amended)
version. It is this new notification and its implications on tourism that is subject of scrutiny of
Tourism has been an important element of Sri Lanka’s post-tsunami reconstruction plans. Out of the 45 tourism projects planned across the country, an important and large project is the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Project (KITRP). The project was announced in 2002, however with the change of government it was resurrected in 2005, which was again put on hold due to the war.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority in November 2010 made public the detailed plans. As a part of this project, lands in Kalpitiya and 14 of its Islands, which are located in the Puttlam District, are being leased out to private resort developers. This has caused among other impacts, land alienation and loss of livelihood. It is in this context that an International Fact Finding Mission was organised under the aegis of Food Sovereignty Network South Asia and National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO). The team comprised of representatives from civil society organisation in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. EQUATIONS was part of the same team.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) made Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for development projects mandatory in India in 1994. But the Ministry on 14th September 2006 brought out a new Notification which significantly changed the approach to EIA in India. Several points of contention with the EIA Notification of 1994 continue to remain unaddressed in the EIA Notification of 2006. But the biggest blow is what seems the removal of tourism related projects from requiring environmental clearance. Studies have shown Tourism to have myriad destructive impacts on ecosystems. By the Ministry’s own submission, consultations on the draft Notification were held only with representatives of industry and central government agencies. State governments, panchayats and municipalities, NGOs, trade unions and local community groups were partially or completely kept out of the process. This paper critiques the EIA Notification of 2006 and its implication for tourism related destruction of the environment.