The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the central government to submit an affidavit stating difficulties in releasing the draft Environment Impact Assessment in all 22 languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
A divisional bench of the Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan while hearing the plea through video conferencing noted, “in modern-day it cannot be a factually impossible task”.
The petition has been filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad, seeking direction to extend the time for public comments invited on the draft EIA Notification 2020, by a period of 60 days from the date of uploading the translated versions of the draft notification in all the languages mentioned in Schedule VIII in the websites of the respective State Pollution Control Boards as directed by the High Court in the judgment of June 30.
Further, the petitioner submitted that less than 50 per cent of the populace is able to read English and Hindi. In such a scenario, it would be wholly unfair to those of other linguistic orientations to be deprived the opportunity to understand the application of an environmental regime that will have far-reaching consequences.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma appearing for the Centre submitted, “It will be administratively chaotic. There will be gaping gaps in the different translations,” in addition to which Mr Sharma further added that the draft has received 20 lakh responses and hence, there is no requirement to translate it in other languages.
It will also be difficult on the administrative part as well as the government does not have appropriate resources to carry out the translations. “It will be administratively chaotic. There will be gaping gaps in the different translations,” Sharma added.
However, the bench stated, “in modern day it cannot be a factually impossible task,” and has asked the government to place on record the difficulties in translating the draft EIA in all the 22 languages.
“We don’t understand why the Union government is resisting vehemently an order of this court for translating the draft into all the languages so that everyone can understand it and respond to it,”
-the bench added.
The bench has listed the matter for further hearing on February 25.