Meanwhile, officials reached the public hearing venue through an alternative route and began the EPH despite protests from people. On knowing about the meeting people reached the venue and some of them expressed their opinion. Sri J V Ratnam, Member, Movement for People Centred Development distributed pamphlets at the venue exposing the errors in the EIA report and expressed opinion to the electronic media. For that the police filed a case under 307 against him and 25 others including several women.
Stating that dissent is an essential ingredient of democracy, NAPM warned that if there is no tolerance towards dissent and attempt to murder cases are filed against persons differing with company reports how can we call ours a democracy.
Instead of concentrating on clearing doubts if the public and improving EIA process, imposing projects on the people in the name of development is unfortunate despite the recent experience of several government officials and a minister sitting in jail for misuse of office, they said.
They deplored that there is hardly any evidence of rejecting environmental clearance to any project whatever the quality of the EIA and the true impacts to public health and environment.
Under such conditions prevailing, they cautioned, people are losing faith about their genuine concerns being taken care. Several recent National Green Tribunals judgments clearly show how the regulatory system has become an accessory to project proponents against public interest, they added.
NAPM leaders have demanded that all the cases filed against the people be withdrawn and the genuine concerns of the people addressed appropriately through a consultation process.
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