An Overview of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process for evaluating the ecological repercussions of an environment-related project before its implementation. Project proponents require a detailed EIA Report as well as an EMP report of the project for obtaining Environment Clearance (EC) before they can commence the project. Subsequently, when the legislated model of EIA was enacted in India, it became mandatory to assess environmental impacts within the instated law or judicial precedent. The Department of Environment was formed in 1974 to implement significant environmental laws in India, such as the Wildlife Act (1972), Water Act (1974), Forest Act (1980), Air Act (1981), and Environment (Protection) Act (1986). Under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006, the following projects were mandatorily required to obtain EC.
Scope of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
EIA is a tool used to assess the significant effects of a project or development proposal on the environment. Such regulations ensure that decision-makers consider the likely impact on the environment before starting the project and subsequently aim to avoid, reduce or offset those effects. This ensures that the proponent understands the proposals' environmental impact well before a decision is sought. Countless stakeholders are engaged in the progression of a set of proposed activities, and most exercise control long before applying for proper project authorisation. The generic structure of the Environmental Impact Assessment is outlined in Appendix III of the EIA Notification, which defines the EC process. Additional general (non-India specific) information on Environmental Impact Assessment can be found in the World Bank's Operational Policy. EIA Report takes into account the impact on the following areas i.e.
Factors considered for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Specific factors need to be considered for Environmental Impact Assessment. While many are industry specific, the following are generally included for all sectors.
- Project description: Describes the proposed project as well as its geographical, ecological, social, and temporal context, as well as any off-site investments that may be required. Indicates the need for a social development or resettlement plan.
- Baseline Data: this section of EIA describes the relevant biological, physical and socio-economic conditions surrounding the project site, including all changes anticipated before the project begins.
- Environmental Impacts: Under EIA, the prediction and assessment of the project's likely positive and negative impacts in quantitative terms. Identifies potential mitigation measures and any negative environmental effects that cannot be avoided. Investigates opportunities for environmental improvement
- Alternatives analysis: Environmental Impact Assessment compares feasible alternatives to the proposed project's site, technology, design, and operation, including all of the "without project" circumstances, in terms of potential environmental impacts, the practicability of curbing these impacts, capital and recurring costs, appropriateness under local conditions, and reduction.
- Environmental Monitoring Programme and Environmental Management Plan: it describes the mitigation, monitoring, and institutional measures implemented during construction and operation to eliminate, offset, or reduce adverse impacts to acceptable levels.
- Consultation: Documentation of advisory meetings, including those held to obtain informed opinions from project-affected people (PAPs), local NGOs, and governmental authorities. Also, the consultants who worked on the study should be disclosed.
- Summary and conclusions covering the project's rationale and strategy to mitigating adverse effects
Stages of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
For new projects, the environmental clearance process consists of 4 stages, some of which may not be required for all projects. These four stages are:
Stage 1: Screening
This stage is applicable on only Category 'B' projects and activities. The SEAC of the state will determine whether the project requires further studies to prepare an EIA, depending on factors such as the nature of the project, location specificity etc. If EIA is required, the project will be categorised as B1 or B2.
Stage 2: Scoping Stage and site inspection
This stage is meant only for Category A and B1 projects. At this stage, the Expert Level Committee or SEAC will formulate a detailed TOR for preparing EIA. A site visit by the SEAC may also be conducted.
Stage 3: Public Consultation Stage (for Category A and B1)
At this stage, the concerns of the local community and stakeholders are ascertained, taking into account all material considerations such as socio-economic, cultural and human concerns associated with the project.
Stage 4: Appraisal Stage
The MoEF&CC or the SEIAA will scrutinise the Environmental Impact Assessment report and outcome of the public consultation submitted by the project proponent and make categorical recommendations. This process can take 60 days from the receipt of the final EIA report.
Applying for Environmental Clearance
Documents required for Environmental Impact Assessment Report
The EIA report is compiled according to the TOR identified at the time of Scoping. Documents required for the purpose are
Environmental Impact Assessment for Integrated projects involving multiple components
In the event that the proposal is for any integrated project involving multiple items as per the EIA Notification, 2006, the applicant can select one of them as significant activity and set the remaining components (objects) as minor activities.
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