EIA 2020 IS DISASTROUS FOR ENVIRONMENT

S V Singh //

Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued a draft notification, Environmental Impact Assessment Notification (hereinafter called EIA Notification 2020) on April 11, 2020 for 60 day’s mandatory Public Notice Period that ended on June 10, 2020. Under Rule 5 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, 60-day public notice period comes into effect “from the date on which copies of the Gazette containing this notification are made available to the public.” The draft EIA notification sent to the government press on March 23, was published only on April 11 due to “shortage of manpower in the light of lockdown”. TO remove the jargons and put the matter straight, Modi government intends to amend the procedure required to be undertaken by any industrialist before establishing any industry or expending capacity of the existing industry to get the environment clearance from competent authority with regards to the impact that the proposed unit will have on environment in the vicinity. Since any such amendment is mandated to obtain reactions from the public at large as per several court orders, notification is brought in public domain for minimum required period of 60 days to get public mandate in favor of intended amendments.

Timing speaks volumes: Before going into details of the notification which are, of course, very serious, attention is drawn by the timing of this exercise. Janata Curfew was imposed on 22nd March 2020 and then strict country-wide lock down was imposed on 24th March due to unprecedented deadly pandemic of novel Covid-19 virus, effectively locking down 135 crore people in their houses with instructions to draw Lakshman Rekha and not to cross that which is, in fact, still continuing.  What a better timing, therefore, would there be to seek public opinion on such a serious issue than on April 11!! First round of lockdown was extended just a day before on April 10!! Modi Government has taken its pet slogan ‘Opportunity in Calamity’ to new heights, indeed! Mandatory period of 60 days available to public to respond was stipulated to end on June 10. The farce, however, got exposed by government’s own admission. As reported by Indian Express, official records show that Ministry officials proposed that the 60-day notice period be extended by another 60 days to August 10. The draft EIA notification, sent to the government press on March 23, was published only on April 11 due to “shortage of manpower in light of the lockdown.” It confirms two points; one, by extending deadline only up to June 30 and not up to August 10, Prakash Javadekar was overruling even his own ministry opinion and secondly, when the Ministry having so much resources at its disposal could not get the notification published for good 19 days because of lockdown, how would the poor, destitute and scared public will read, understand and get the comments/ observations acknowledged within stipulated period of 60 days during strict lockdown. The motive behind ‘Opportunity in Calamity’ trick to befool and hoodwink the masses got exposed one more time during this exercise. If a government is even the least sensitive towards its poor than it is, certainly, not a fascist government.

Overwhelming response from the masses: The design was well thought out and executed that people are under lockdown, Corona Pandemic is playing havoc, they are dying on the road, who will bother for the issue of environment? ‘Whatever legislative hindrances are there for the Corporate to rape the natural resources mercilessly without caring for environment, will be diluted and no one will come to know because of strict lockdown’ scheme’s cover was tore down by the exemplary public response that this issue received from the public leaving the minister and his ministry red faced. Notification got published on April 11 and within a span of 9 days, ministry received 1190 mails. Of these 46 offered suggestion and 1144 requested extension of the deadline due to the pandemic. Till August 21, over 4000 written representations have been received underlining the level of public sensitivity on this subject. Delhi High Court was moved by environmental conservationist Vikrant Tongad who had sought extension of the period for receiving public opinion regarding the draft notification due to the coronavirus pandemic. Responding to this, the Bench comprising chief justice of Delhi high court D. N. Patel & Justice Prateek Jalan, commented, “What is the urgency in finalizing this? The Centre’s response does not deal with the ambiguity at all… It is mentioned on the notification that the last date is June 30, this is an error apparent on the face of record”.  The High Court further asked the center, “Why only two languages (English and Hindi) … Will you be in (a) position to publish in other languages,” the Bench remarked during the hearing on a petition by Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Mr. Tongad. Court also directed for publication of the draft EIA in multiple languages. “Let every citizen of this country know what is happening to them. This is a fundamental rights issue. It affects tribal. It should be in multiple languages.” The ASG, however, said it was “beyond practices” to publish such notification in all vernacular languages. Government has received over 17 lakh comments from citizens till August 10, reports The Mint. The way this issue has aroused public awakening and the way people have not only responded by e mails, written representations but have also come out on road in a joint and coordinated manner, it is clear that the government was expected to extend deadline to seek public responses further beyond August 10 but that did not happen. People are, however, sending e mails but these are now returned with the reason, “e

mail address not found”. 

Salient Points Of The EIA Notification/ Reasons Why EIA Requires To Be Opposed Till Its Complete Roll Back

  1. Reduction of Public Response Time and Public Hearing

Corporates, true to their character, driven exclusively as they are by lust of profit and their government, both know that any other authority in the line can be ‘managed’ to get the environment clearance but managing the masses at large in a public hearing is the most difficult job. Hence this process of public hearing is under primary attack. Normally, under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, public consultation process takes place in the open meeting, where objections can be heard from project affected people. Environment Assessment Committee (EAC) can, then, make a final appraisal of the project and forward the same to the regulatory authority. The new Draft EIA Notification reduces the time period of receiving public response from stipulated 30 to 20 days under the excuse ‘streamlining the process’. However, it may just leave the locals with even lesser time to raise objections as the draft notification also provides that the whole process of public hearing itself shall be reduced from 45 days to 40 days. Motive for this ‘streamlining’ is crystal clear. For project-affected people, who are frequently forest dwellers, tribal or otherwise, do not have access to information and technology. This will make it harder to put forth representations quickly. Supreme Court has said in several judgments over the years, time given for consultation should be adequate and, if it is not provided then it is a violation of the principles of natural justice. This may also be against Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration which deals with promoting public consultation and awareness regarding industrial projects that may harm local environment, and India is party to the Rio Declaration. Reducing the time provided for public discourse is aimed at scuttling this noble process in order to submit before the corporates. This fact is, now, no more disguised.

  • Exemption of certain Projects from Public Consultation:

Section 14 of the Draft EIA Notification exempts a long list of projects from public consultation. For example, linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing. The ‘border area’ is defined as “area falling within 100 kilometers aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India.” That would cover much of the Northeast, which is a repository of one of the country’s richest biodiversity. Besides that, section 26 of the EIA provides a list of projects that would not attract environment clearance or permission including coal mining and seismic surveys for oil, methane and shale gas on some lands. Further, it retains the clause that if a public agency or authority considers the local situation not conducive to participation by citizens, the public consultation need not include a public hearing. There are, therefore, all arrangements in place by which this most important measure of public hearing against wanton devastation of environment can be circumvented. EIA notification draft also ignores health and welfare aspect of the effected people. In April, obviously, in the thick of pandemic and lockdown, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar used a virtual conference to ensure that the National Board for Wildlife’s Standing Committee stamped its approval on several projects, with serious implications for conservation. He now wants to hurriedly make a fundamental change to the process of project approvals by introducing a new EIA Notification. 

  • Post-Facto Clearance Route Allowed:

It allows projects that are in violation of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) 1986 to apply for clearance, thus in a way legalizing projects that have already been operating without approvals from the EIA. Where an EIA clearance was never sought or granted, and the construction of the project took place regardless, the project proponent can enter an assessment procedure and seek a waiver by paying some fines for the violation. Where such ex-post-facto clearances were being granted previously, the courts cracked down on them as being unsustainable and illegal. (Recent Supreme Court decision dated April 01, 2020 in Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v. Rohit Prajapati & Ors. speaks for itself). This waiver clause raises questions on several existing projects that are running without EIA clearances. Some examples are as follows:

  • The LG Polymer Plant in Vishakhapatnam, where the styrene gas leak happened on May 7. It was revealed that the plant had been running for over two decades without clearances. Minimum 29 people lost their life in this gas leak disaster. Such occurrences are not uncommon in our country.
  • A similar incident was reported on May 27, where due to poor adherence of environment norms, the natural gas of Oil India Limited in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district had a blowout and caught fire. This caused severe damage to the livelihoods in the region rich with biodiversity. The State Pollution Board, Assam, had reported that the oil plant had been operating for over 15 years without obtaining prior consent from the board.
  • Self -Monitoring allowed and reporting period doubled:

The draft EIA notification halves the frequency of reporting requirements from every six months to once a year in critical sectors such as mining. This allows for more leeway and a dilution of environmental details. During this period, certain irreversible environmental, social or health consequences of the project could go unnoticed because of the extended reporting time. Further, the monitoring mechanism requires the compliance report to be filed by the project proponents themselves. This may create a lot of room for discrepancies. These self –assessment reports by project proponents will never be accurate and no expert is required to know, why.

  • Validity period extended in critical sectors such as mining and other heavy industries:

Increased validity of the environment clearances for mining projects (50 years vs 30 years) and river valley projects (15 years vs 10 years), thus increasing the risk of irreversible environmental, social and health consequences on account of the project remaining unnoticed for long.

  • Risk to Protected Areas:

The new EIA Notification allows several red and orange toxic industries to operate as close as 0-5 Km from a Protected Area, which may risk the protection of diversity of the country’s forests and our source of water. According to critics and environmentalists, the radius chosen is arbitrary and too less, and suitable scientific methods should be adopted to determine the appropriate distance from a Protected Area.

  • Exemption of several large industries from public hearings (B2 category)

The EIA regime in India broadly divides the projects which require Environmental Clearance into Category A, Category B1 and Category B2 based on their presumed impact. Category A projects, which include capital-intensive projects such as thermal power projects and airports, have the highest impact and are to be assessed by the Central Government represented by the MoEFCC. Category B1 projects are assumed to have lesser impact and Category B2 projects the least impact. They are to be adjudged by the State Government represented by the State-level Environment Impact Assessment Authorities. Further, industries that previously fell under the categories that required a full assessment have now been downgraded. The construction industry will be one such beneficiary, where only the largest projects will be scrutinized fully. Effectively, many of these projects are meant for the public from whom this information will be hidden. Several red and orange industries have been moved from Category A (which needs expert appraisal) to Category B1 or B2 which have lesser EIA processes and B2 industries do not need public consultation or EAC reports. A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • Chemical manufacturing and petroleum products
  • Modernization of irrigation
  • Buildings, construction and area development
  • Inland waterways
  • Expansion or widening of national highways
  • All projects concerning national defence and security
  • Projects involving ‘other strategic considerations’ as determined by the central government
  • Offshore projects located beyond 12 nautical miles (onshore or offshore oil and gas drilling etc.)
  • Large scale renewable energy projects like dams

This is against international environmental law and agreements like the Stockholm Declaration 1972, the Rio Declaration 1992 and COP 25, to which India is party. Earlier, the Defence and national security installations were under the exempted category. The new EIA proposes a vague new category of projects “involving other strategic considerations” which will also now be free from public consultation requirements. It is not clear what will be included under this category, showing lack of transparency. Ambiguity left is not without purpose. Anything, the authorities desire can be accommodated under this provision.

  • Exemption of Public Hearing in ‘Economically Sensitive Areas’

The new Notification proposes declaration of some areas as ‘Economically Sensitive Areas’ without a public hearing or comments from stakeholders, which is against democratic principles. No trouble is taken to explain how this ‘sensitivity’ will be ascertained first or how this will be measured. This opening too is, obviously, provided intentionally.

Secretary, MoEFCC, Mr. R.P. Gupta has hinted in one press conference on August 14 that there is going to be the second part of EIA Notification 2020 although he did not elaborate details but it can very well be discerned, when he says that in case an industry has been set up without any assessment of its impact on environment, it also has to be approved on merit. It makes government’s intentions absolutely clear that post-facto approvals are going to be the order of the day. In the name of providing ‘ease of doing business’ government is going to facilitate circumvention of provision of criminal punishment of The Environment Protection Act, 1986 as it provides under section 15 (1&2) by which the violator of environment protection mandatory guidelines can be jailed up to a maximum period of 7 years along with fine.  

Severity Of Environment Devastation In Our Country

A – GROUND WATER POLLUTION:

Ground water pollution in our country has reached hazardous levels thanks to unrestricted pollution by way of chemicals flowing out of chemical industries, excessive and unscientific use of deadly pesticides and fertilizers. It is causing deadly disease all around. Cancer which was not known in villages until a few years ago is now taking a very heavy toll of life and money. A train that runs from Punjab to Bikaner in Rajasthan is ignominiously called as ‘Cancer Express’. Three main culprits of ground water pollution are; polluting industrial development, ambitious, unplanned and unscientific use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural production, and grave hydrological mismanagement. The very same trends in thousands of rural communities have produced an economic and environmental crisis that is now turned into a permanent endemic in our country.

From the rice paddies and sugar cane fields of Punjab, in northwest India, to the coconut groves and rice paddies in Tamil Nadu, the country’s southernmost state, and to almost every state in between, water pollution and the effect it has on water supply have combined to produce a freshwater calamity. Ground water contamination has reached extremely severe levels and it is literally killing us in following manner.

  • The contamination of groundwater affects the quality of drinking water in places dependent on groundwater for consumption. Arsenic poisoning can lead to skin diseases, gastrointestinal problems, and even cancer.
  • Similarly, the contamination of groundwater with mercury can result in cancer and other dangerous diseases. Fluoride contamination is the primary cause for damaged joints, bone deformities, and fluorosis.
  • People living in rural areas experience nitrate contamination due to excessive use of fertilizers. This pollution can cause cancer and the Blue Baby syndrome in new-born babies.
  • Consuming sewage-contaminated water can lead to viral and bacterial diseases.

B – RIVER WATER POLLUTION

River Water pollution is another killer that has reached catastrophic proportions. We call our rivers as mother and worship these. We also boast of worshipping women as per our self- proclaimed and self-boasted ‘glorious ancient culture’ and, then, pounce upon them like hungry wolves!! Similarly we enjoy polluting our rivers day in and day out. The main sewer outlet in every big city along the bank of these rivers, opens into the rivers, converting them into drains with flowing stinking poisonous water.  Urbanization in our country means intensification of toxins in environment, air and water. Over 70% of the surface water is unfit for consumption. Every day, almost 40 million liters of waste water (sewer water or chemical mixed water) enters rivers and other water bodies with negligible provision for treatment. There is no estimate how many of us are dying every year by consuming contaminated water. We really envy or refuse to believe seeing rivers flowing into the mega cities of European countries. River water animals have disappeared long back.

C – AIR POLLUTION: WE CAN’T BREATHE:

Level of air pollution in our country is such that during entire winter season, India can’t breathe.“A quarter of India’s population is exposed to [air] pollution levels not seen in any other country, with 248 million residents of northern India—including the mega cities of Delhi and Kolkata—on track to lose more than eight years of life expectancy if 2018 concentrations persist.” This is the finding of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, done by the University of Chicago’s The Energy Policy Institute. The study, which has analyzed data till 2018, concludes that Bangladesh tops the world in terms of air pollution, followed closely by India on the second slot. In fact, of the five worst polluted air countries, four are neighbors—Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal—and the other is Singapore. 

D – MAJESTIC HIMALAYAS ARE UNDER DANGER AS GLACIERS ARE MELTING FAST:

According to a report by Stephen Leathy published in National Geographic on June 19, 2019,  the Himalayan Mountains are home to the highest peak in Mount Everest at 29,029 feet, but also to the third largest deposit of ice and snow in the world, after Antarctica and the Arctic. Now the first complete study of this remote region reveals that its glaciers lost billions of tons of ice—equivalent to more than a vertical foot and half of ice each year—from 2000 to 2016. That’s double the amount of melting that took place from 1975 to 2000, revealing that the ice loss is accelerating with rising temperatures. It’s also threatening water supplies for hundreds of millions of people downstream across much of Asia. This is the first comprehensive look at what’s happened to glaciers in the Himalaya over a 40-year time span, said lead author Joshua Maurer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The study was published in Science Advances.

 As our major rivers originate from Himalayas, a total 800 million people depend onHimalayan watersSome 800 million people depend in part on seasonal flow of water from Himalayan glaciers for irrigation, hydropower, and drinking water. The accelerated melting appears so far to be swelling water flows during warm seasons, and the glaciers are also losing mass.

 

Massive Nation-Wide Agitations Against Eia

Corporates’ insatiable lust for profit, more profit, maximum profit at any cost has contaminated the environment to the extent that the very survival of the sub-continent is in danger. If a government turns a blind eye to the stark reality, the question of life and death of the masses and proposes to ease whatever constraints are there for the corporates to think of environment before all out plunder of the natural resources, people are duty bound to resist those sinister moves. People have, indeed, risen to the occasion over this issue and government is finding the going really tuff.

North-East India: Section 14 of the draft EIA provides that any project within a 100 kilometer aerial distance from the international border will be exempted from public hearing. All our 7 north eastern states are surrounded by international borders with China, Myanmar & Bangladesh. Almost entire area of north east does, thus, fall under this exemption. This has caused immense unrest in north east in general and Assam in particular.  According to a report published in The Wire, Aug 18, 2020, thousands of youth came out on road at Gauhati braving Pandemic restrictions. They were protesting both NPR/NRC & EIA. Anti –citizenship law protests and Anti-EIA protests have merged together. Students have formed a joint front Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad and called the masses to join them against this atrocious draft EIA Notification 2020 along with anti people amendments to citizenship laws.  “We will not stop till the CAA and EIA are repealed. It is also unfortunate how this government has vindictively kept Akhil Gogoi inside jail just to derail the anti-CAA movement,” said AJYCP’s Guwahati unit president Pradip Kalita, while taking part in a human

chain in the Narengi area.

Uttarakhand: State of Uttarakhand has a glorious legacy of ‘Chipko Andolan’ led by Sundar Lal Bahuguna to save forests even at the cost of their life. Most concerted and coordinated opposition to this proposed disastrous onslaught on environment came from Uttarakhand, quite understandable as any further loss to the majestic Himalayas could prove too costly to us. Total 52 groups have decided to fight jointly against the proposed EIA under the leadership of Ravi Chopra, a renowned environmentalist. “The Himalayan region today is in the most vulnerable position with massive climate-induced disasters, increasing deforestation, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, drying of rivers, death of groundwater sources, melting glaciers, hollowing of the mountains, solid and hazardous waste-related pollution. Amending environmental norms will accelerate the ecological crisis in the Himalayas” Another significant development is that representatives of all the states along the Himalayas from Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, to Uttarakhand, Kashmir, Himachal and Ladakh signed a joint declaration demanding immediate scrapping of the 2020 draft amendments. A joint statement titled ‘Stop Accelerating Ecosystems Distress in the Himalayas’ and ‘Withdraw Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020’ was issued stating that amending environmental norms will accelerate an ecological crisis in the Himalayas. 

Tamilnadu: More than 75 youth groups in Tamilnadu alone under the banner All Progressive Movement, Coimbatore have urged the government to withdraw the EIA forthwith.Members of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam, Dravida Tamilar Katchi, Aathi Tamizhar Peravai, Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam and a few other outfits that form a part of the Movement, staged an agitation to register their protest against the draft. Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam’s Coimbatore urban unit president M. Nehru Das said that the draft, as released by the government, is anti-people, anti-environment and anti-democratic. The government should withdraw the draft failing which the Movement would intensify its protest, he added.

Let me breathe: A series of nationwide online digital protests have been going on backed by student unions, environmentalists, and other stakeholders, condemning the stance of the government on environmental sustainability. All these questions are answered by Neha Sinha (Conservation biologist and author), Manju Menon (Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research) and Sandeep Anirudhan (Founder, Aikyam Community). #LetindiaBreathe hashtag is a collective campaigning on environmental issues.  Displaying its intolerance to any dissent on any issue once again, the website was blocked by the National Internet Exchange of India (NiXi), a public sector company controlled by Modi Government.

World Wide Webinar: On June 5, the World Environment Day, 10 World Wide Webinars were organized and these were attended by Medha Patkar, well known organizer of Narmado Bachao Andolan,  Sunita Narain, the director general of the advocacy organisation Centre for Science and Environment; and Kanchi Kohli, an established environmental researcher and writer. Each webinar was attended by an average of 5,000-6,000 people.

Virtual Human Chains:  One of the most innovative campaigns on the line-up was a virtual human chain, a form of dissent where people link their hands together in a show of solidarity. While people from the south Indian state of Kerala famously resisted the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act by forming a 385-mile long human chain in January 2020, EIA 2020 protestors were urged to follow in their footsteps and send in photos of themselves standing with arms extended on either side. The hashtag #humanchainforeia was used to consolidate the photos in a common place, quickly gaining clout by virtue of its inventiveness.

Any person interested in making any objections or suggestions on the proposal contained in the draft notification may forward the same in writing for consideration of the Central Government within the period so specified to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi 110 003, or send it to the e-mail address at eia2020-moefcc@gov.in

Socialism Or Complete Devastation Of Planet Earth

Unsolvable systemic crisis of moribund capitalism has reached a stage where it is no more hidden even to a layman that any government in bourgeois democracy works as a management committee of the bourgeoisie. Moreover, the governments themselves are not bothered now even if this hard reality gets explicitly known to everyone. They are, themselves, tearing apart the cover of pretensions. It’s now the final desperate battle for survival of capitalism whatever the cost may be and whatever the means may be. It’s a do or die battle quite literally. As per the paramount rule of capitalism, the sole motive of production always is maximum profit having absolutely no concern for needs of the society whatsoever. Falling rate of profit owing to huge rise in organic composition of capital has further pushed the bourgeoisie to the brink to earn profit ‘somehow’ or perish. If production of poison fetches more profit, corporates will produce poison in abundance. Profit can now be maximized only when the government facilitates production by removing all constraints. Respecting labor laws, concern for environmental disaster or Corporate Social Responsibility are now classified as hindrances/ constraints. Governments are, naturally, leaving no stone unturned to remove these hindrances in the name of providing ‘ease of doing business’ to the corporates. Even if, millions of people die of breathlessness, drinking poisonous water or the majestic Himalayas are turned into barren land by a project but it fetches millions of dollars in profit to the corporates then that project has to be commissioned without any delay. Government’s job is, then, to befool the masses by juicy jumlas delivered by high performance of face-hand movements, to tell thousand lies without blinking the eye to hoodwink the gullible masses. Do any shameless somersault, employ any trick of the trade required but ensure smooth sailing for that project is the responsibility of the government. Since present Modi government plays the bluff most efficiently and they are matchless in that art and skill that is why they are and will remain in the government. Even sky is not the limit to corporate lust for profit. Similarly, there is no limit to which a fascist government can stoop to serve their master, the blood thirsty corporates. In another fully blown case of fascism in the world today, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, has put entire massive forest of Amazon (having forest area of 5.5 million square kilometer), known as ‘lungs of the earth’, on sale. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he was our guest of honor, this Independence Day!! Our rivers are turned into gutters by poisonous water, we are dying of breathlessness in every mega city, our ground water is contaminated to the extent that people are dying of cancer, nervous breakdown; our mountains look devastated in the first look itself but Modi government is playing every trick to do away with Corporate Environment Responsibility. How ironic it sounds when we have this headline in every newspaper during November every year, “Delhi air has improved to the very dangerous level’!! Modi government is facilitating environmental disaster in the garb of EIA Notification 2020.  From 1992 to the present, there have been three Notifications; the last of these, the 2006 Notification has been amended more than 50 times and clarified more than 200 times through circulars since it came into force. Even the Congress government was also circumventing environment guidelines, diluting the restrictions consistently and was submitting unconditionally to corporate interest but Modi government is doing this in more brazen way, more recklessly than Congress that is why capitalists ensure that the BJP government faces no financial constraints in any

election or in post -election trading of the legislators.

Another distinct paradigm shift is there in polity now which the toiling, exploited masses and their vanguard political parties seem to ignore or avoid to notice. The days when token protest movements used to make governments roll back the anti- people decisions are now over, never to come back. In its last, artificially stretched life span, capitalism drowned in perpetual crisis till its nose, has thrown away all pretensions of being welfare state, sensitive to public feelings. It can no more afford that. It has now turned into its ugliest form of fascism because stake is too high, it is the question of life and death. Though protest movements against the proposed amendments by way of EIA Notification 2020 are intensifying all over India as these changes will certainly lead to environmental disaster but to think that this is sufficient to force the ruling dispensation to re-think or roll back this notification will be a naivety, a wishful thinking. The need of the hour is to combine Anti-CAA, Anti-EIA, Anti-NEP, Anti-UAPA, Anti-Sedition law and protests against crippling of dissenting voices and wanton arrests of innocent people on cooked up frivolous charges, into one Anti-Fascist Joint Movement at all India level. That is, however, not possible without having an All India Platform of Revolutionary Left. No bourgeois party can be an ally in this battle as bourgeois interests can now be served this way only. These parties have no difference on the vital questions of the masses. “If BJP is for Ram temple in Ayodhya, we are for installing tallest statues of Parasuram”, this is the difference between BJP and SP-BSP-Congress as the shameful drama is being enacted in UP. Bourgeois parties have only this much difference. All India Front Against Fascism is not materializing because the revolutionary forces claiming to be vanguard of the proletariat are content among themselves even though operating in 3-4 districts of 3-4 states. Their pursuit of excellence in Marxism-Leninism seems academic to prove themselves more revolutionary than their rivals and not to use Marxism-Leninism as a scientific tool to lead the exploited masses to emancipation from yolk of capitalist exploitation. Of course, there can be no revolutionary movement without revolutionary theory. This invincible weapon is to be used as a guide to action and not as an academic pursuit of excellence as if to submit a thesis. The sole emphasis, however, seems to be to prove all others ‘Mensheviks’. The toiling masses, in extremely dire state are dying on the roads, in quarantine centers but are not thronging to any of these self- proclaimed vanguards as they are also seeing through the game going on. Ranks of the proletariat are increasing by leaps and bounds because the thick layer of middle class is melting fast and pouring into the ocean of the proletariat and rate of melting is certainly going to increase immensely but the ranks of these revolutionary organizations are depleting. There is no growth in the rank of these revolutionary organizations whatever may be their claims. It is a very painful reality though one needs to have courage to accept this. The cadre is feeling restless and will surely rebel against their own leadership if the same trend is not broken. The ruling bourgeois class is very well organized centrally as regional capital is dying in face of gigantic monopolistic imperialist cartels at national level. GST regime has throttled the regional capital completely. Against this reality, the exploited class ranks are in disarray leading to an atmosphere of hopelessness and gloom. To combat the present fascist juggernaut, if all revolutionary forces working in the country, manage to forge a national platform in all 739 districts of the country having district committees and action committees at local level, the toiling masses will rally behind them like a strong waves in such a huge number that the scenario of doom and despair will turn into hope and enthusiasm. The revolution that looks so blurred and too distant now will come closer and clear and it will further enthuse the masses with revolutionary energy which will, eventually, turn into a tsunami that will wipe away the stinking filth of exploitation, hunger and destitution accumulated from ages. Capitalist infrastructure will crumble and will find place in the big hall at National Museum. This historical turn will overturn the fundamental rule of production and wipe away those sitting on the mountains of capital i.e. unpaid labor of the proletariat. Anarchy in production will go along with capitalism. Production relations will change and all the production will, then, be based on social needs where social production will have social not individual appropriation, having top most regards, naturally, for conservation of environment. A new sun will, then, rise in the east ushering in a new era of SOCIALISM. There is no third option, choice is now between SOCIALISM and complete destruction of this planet EARTH.

Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 5/ September ’20)

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