An Industrial Estate is defined as a part of the land that has been developed and divided into smaller plots according to a comprehensive plan. This plan includes provisions for roads, transportation, and public utilities. Depending on the situation, the plots may or may not have pre-built factories, and sometimes there are shared facilities available for use by a group of industrialists. The effectiveness of a comprehensive undertaking such as an EIA for Industrial estates relies heavily on assembling the right team at the right time, preferably during the initial stages of the EIA process. This ensures the team can thoroughly evaluate the significant impacts, including direct, indirect, and cumulative effects. An appropriate professional team is selected for a particular EIA that should consist of qualified and experienced experts from various fields who can address the critical aspects of the specific project.
Fig. 1 Stages Involved in Environment Impact Assessment
The primary function of Industrial Estate
The primary functions of Industrial Estate include:
- To speed up industrialization within the country.
- To generate increased national and local employment opportunities.
- To achieve a more balanced distribution of employment, production, and subsequent growth across different regions.
- To attract private investments, both domestic and international.
- To facilitate the development of small-scale domestically owned industries.
All new Industrial Estates (IEs), including expansion and modernization projects, require prior environmental clearance. In EIA for Industrial estates, the projects are classified into two categories based on their pollution potential:
- If at least one industry within the proposed IE falls under Category A, the entire industrial area will be considered Category A, regardless of size.
- IEs with an area larger than 500 hectares (ha) that house at least one Category B industry.
- IEs that house at least one Category B industry and have an area smaller than 500 ha.
- IEs with an area larger than 500 ha that does not house any industry belonging to Category A or B.
Stage in the EIA for Industrial Estate
The screening for the EIA for Industrial estates is conducted at the initial stage of project development to ensure that proponents know their responsibilities before making decisions regarding the budget, project design, and execution plan.
- This stage applies explicitly to Category ‘B’s developmental activities. If the general conditions for a Category B project are met, it will be treated as a Category A project. Additionally, screening involves the classification of Category B projects into either Category B1 or Category B2.
- Category B1 projects must follow all stages applicable to a Category A project but are processed by the State-Level Expert Appraisal Committees (SEACs) or the Union Territory-Level Expert Appraisal Committees (UTEACs).
- Category B2 projects do not necessitate an EIA or public consultation. According to the notification, the classification of Category B projects falls under the jurisdiction of the SEACs.
Scoping for EIA Studies
The scoping exercise for EIA for Industrial estates is undertaken shortly after defining the project details. Its primary objective is identifying concerns and issues that may impact project decisions. In the case of Category ‘A’ projects, the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) are responsible for determining the Terms of Reference (ToR) for EIA studies, while for Category ‘B1’ projects, including applications for the expansion or modernization of existing projects, the State Expert Appraisal Committees (SEACs) perform this task. The ToR outlines the relevant environmental concerns that must be addressed in preparing an EIA report for a specific project.
Terms of Reference (ToR)
The process for arriving at the draft ToR is as follows:
- The project proponent applies to the appropriate authority, attaching Form 1, a pre-feasibility report, and the proposed ToR for EIA studies.
- The pre-feasibility report concisely summarises project details and potential environmental concerns based on secondary information.
- Based on the pre-feasibility report and Form 1, the valued environmental components (VECs) relevant to the project are identified (i.e., components of the environment or society likely to be affected by project activities/operations).
- The authority then consults the relevant EAC/SEAC to review the application form, pre-feasibility report and proposed draft ToR by the proponent. Necessary additions or deletions make it a comprehensive ToR that aligns with statutory requirements for conducting EIA studies.
- The final set of ToR for EIA studies is conveyed to the proponent by the EAC/SEAC within sixty days of receiving Form 1 and the pre-feasibility report. If the finalized ToR for EIA studies is not provided to the proponent within sixty days, the ToR suggested by the proponent is considered final and approved for EIA studies.
- The final ToR for EIA studies is displayed on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) website or the State-Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
Environmental Management Plan
A standard Environmental Management Plan (EMP) in the EIA for Industrial estates consists of the following elements:
- A concise overview of the potential impacts associated with the proposal.
- Detailed descriptions of the recommended mitigation measures to address these impacts.
- An outline of the monitoring program designed to ensure compliance with relevant standards and assess residual impacts.
- Allocation of resources and identification of responsibilities for implementing the plan.
- An implementation schedule and reporting procedures.
- Inclusion of a contingency plan to address situations when impacts exceed initial expectations.
The EMP provides a comprehensive framework that summarizes potential impacts, suggests mitigation measures, establishes monitoring procedures, assigns responsibilities, sets timelines, and outlines contingency measures to be implemented if the impacts exceed anticipated levels.
The purpose of reporting of EIA for Industrial estates is as follows:
- Identifying the project and project proponent.
- It briefly describes the project’s nature, size, location, and significance to the country or region.
- Outlining the scope of the study based on regulatory scoping conducted according to the Terms of Reference (ToR).
Project description is simply offering a condensed description of the project’s aspects likely to have environmental effects based on the project feasibility study; it includes the following:
- Providing clear details about the project, including its type, necessity, location (through maps showing general and specific locations, project boundary, and site layout), size or magnitude of the operation, associated activities, proposed schedule, technology, and process description.
- Including project drawings and schematic representations from the feasibility study relevant to the EIA for Industrial estates.
- Describing any mitigation measures incorporated into the project to meet environmental standards, operating conditions, or other EIA requirements as specified in the scope.
- Assessing the risks associated with the use of new and untested technology.
Explaining that public consultation is a process to collect the views of locally affected people and other stakeholders with plausible interests in the project’s environmental impacts. Noting that public consultation is not a decision-making process, and the opinions expressed may only be considered if the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or the public agency conducting the consultation is convinced of their validity. Highlighting that public consultation involves public hearings and inviting written responses or objections through the Internet, postal mail, etc., by making the EIA report summary available on the website.
Approval / Rejection / Reconsideration
The authority considers the recommendations of the relevant appraisal committee and communicates its decision within 45 days of receiving the recommendations. If the authority disagrees with the committee’s recommendations on the EIA for Industrial estates, the reasons are communicated to the committee and the applicant within 45 days. The committee then provides its views on the observations within 60 days, and the authority decides within the next 30 days based on the committee’s views.
The documents required for obtaining EIA for Industrial estates include the following:
- Project proposal or feasibility report
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report
- Site plans and maps
- Consent from local authorities
- Details of the project proponent
- Public hearing report
- Environmental Management Plan (EMP)
Conducting an EIA for Industrial estates is not only a mere obligation but a social responsibility of a project proponent to ensure that the project does not inflict any detrimental harm to the environment and society. Undertaking EIA is a very elaborate process that needs to be conducted only by experts who are well-experienced in preparing genuine, errorless, and quality EIA Reports. It is recommended to take expert advice for conducting Environmental Clearance and obtaining an EIA Report for Industrial Estate to avoid penalties due to non-compliance.
Biomass-based power plants, including thermal power plants up to 15 MW that use non-hazardous municipal solid waste or biomass as fuel, and have an auxiliary fuel mix of up to 15% consisting of eco-friendly options like coal, lignite, or petroleum products, are exempted from seeking environmental clearance.
Undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for development projects is crucial in achieving the goal of sustainable development. EIA is a formal study process to predict, anticipate, and analyze the potential environmental impacts of proposed development projects.
Once the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) is satisfied that the proposed industrial unit will comply with all prescribed effluent and emissions standards, it issues a consent to establish (commonly known as NOC), which remains valid for a period of 15 years.
To explicitly address and include environmental factors in the decision-making process related to development. To anticipate and prevent, reduce, or counteract any negative and significant impacts on the natural environment, social aspects, and other relevant factors resulting from development proposals. To safeguard the productivity and resilience of biological systems and the ecological processes that sustain their functionality.
The authority considers the recommendations of the relevant appraisal committee and communicates its decision within 45 days of receiving the recommendations. If the authority disagrees with the committee’s recommendations, the reasons are communicated to the committee and the applicant within 45 days. The committee then provides its views on the observations within 60 days, and the authority decides within the next 30 days based on the committee’s views.
Read Our Article: Overview Of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) For Industrial Estates