"Many well-regarded scientists have been making the point that the Environmental Impact Assessment, a mechanism instituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in the early phase of India's economic liberalisation and amended in later years, has been turned into a joke because it is left to the project proponent to arrange for the EIA report," India's Hindu newspaper wrote in an editorial over the weekend.
With environmentalists and local residents battling almost every major industrial development proposed in the country, and the devastation wrought by virtually every completed development plain to see with the naked eye, that should be an obvious point. But it's being lost in the debate over the false dichotomy of development vs. the environment, and the pell mell quest for economic growth -- where the cost of environmental damage is never calculated.
That said, there's an element of humor in a system of checks and balances so absurd, as the Hindu points out in uncharacteristically snappy prose:
"This dyfunctional system has produced only a thriving industry of consultants. Many of them without the requisite qualifications; some are nothing more than paid pipers. It is no surprise that several reports submitted by these consultants have been exposed as plain cut-and-paste reproductions of other publications."