Friday, August 24, 2007

workshop on Environmental Justice and Community’s Right to Information

GANGTOK, August 23: A two-day long workshop on Environmental Justice and Community’s Right to Information began here at Bhutia Lepcha House from today.
The workshop has been organised to share experiences on how to use laws and legal laws and legal forums in addressing issues of environmental concerns.
Jointly organized by Affected Citizen of Teesta (ACT) and Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), Delhi, the workshop will discuss different aspects which are fundamental to democratic environmental decision-making process for development projects access to environmental information, effective public participation and access to justice.
The members of Citizen Forum, SAFE, Sangha of Dzongu, Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim (CLOS) along with the other NGOs and the local people attended the seminar.
Two environmentalists from LIFE, Ritwick Dutta and Neeraj Vagholikar will be imparting their deliberations on various subjects pertaining to the importance of environment with human life. The significant topics to be dealt will be the use of the right to information Act 2005, in environmental matters, Understanding the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, relevant provisions of other forest and wildlife laws, legal redressal forums such as the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA), Central empowered Committee as well as practical experiences on use of such forums and authorities.
Ritwick Dutta, advocate in the Supreme Court and specialist in Public Interest Environment Law highlighted the experiences in using right to information Act for environmental issues while Neeraj Vagholikar, a member of Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group spoke on the topic of environmental and social impacts of hydroelectric projects and understanding the environment impact assessment notification 2006 on environmental public hearings.
A substantive focus of Mr. Vagholikar’s work involves advocacy and research on the environmental decision making process for development projects and activities. He has provided support to NGOs, activists and communities to understand and engage with the environmental decision making process. Over the past six years he has closely followed environmental and social issues with respect to large dams in Northeast India.
Ritwick Dutta who has also been assisting environmental NGO, activists and other concerned groups to take up issues before the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), the environmental appellate authority (NEAA) and other forums is also the convener of LIFE.
Day one of the workshop saw interactive sessions with the resource person with people raising several queries.
Day two will feature a brief over view of relevant provisions of forest and wild life laws related to clearance of development projects, Forest Conservation Act 1980, Wild Life (Protection) Act, Forest and Wild Life Laws related to clearance of development projects, legal redressal forums (NEAA).