Draft EIA 2020: How it may impact North East -Sayan Banerjee
-Down to Earth
The region, with eight per cent of India’s total geographical area, has 25 per cent of India’s forest cover
India’s northeastern region — comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura — is a unique biodiversity hotspot. The region, however, faces many environmental problems.
Successive Indian forest surveys in 2015, 2017 and 2019 reported net deforestation of 628, 630 and 765 square kilometres in the region respectively.
This gradual decline in general and decrease of very dense forests — with canopy cover greater than 70 per cent — is particularly alarming. During 2001-2018, 75 per cent of the total tree cover loss outside the recorded forest area in India occurred in this region.
The region is prone to multiple cycles of heavy floods, grade-V earthquakes and landslides due to hydrological and seismic fragility.
In 2020, almost 28 of 33 districts at the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys in Assam reeled under floods, 23 small-scale earthquakes hit Mizoram within five weeks and multiple causalities due to landslides occurred in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and other hilly areas.
A recent government report presented in the climate summit at Katowice, Poland found the north-eastern states to be highly vulnerable to climate change due to low adaptive potential of demographic and livelihood factors.
The development of this region, thus, requires sound socio-ecological planning with proactive mitigation strategies to control the damage to the region’s ecology and society.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA), in this regard, becomes a mandatory exercise for ecologically sound development projects envisaged for the region.
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Down to Earth, 10 August, 2020, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/draft-eia-2020-how-it-may-impact-north-east-72742?fbclid=IwAR1EkiT1SBX5bvhU1GxH8OaZ0_W30qX2zKq_obSid0QjEbi4rbjBCPVnIaA