EIA

How to Obtain EIA for Pulp & Paper Industry?

calendar12 Jul, 2023
timeReading Time: 6 Minutes
How to Obtain EIA for Pulp & Paper Industry?

Pulp and paper production involves utilizing raw materials that contain cellulose fibres, such as wood, recycled paper, and agricultural residues. Various methods are employed to produce different types and grades of paper. The global pulp and paper industry consists of approximately 5,000 large-scale industrial mills and several small companies. Pulp mills separate fibres from wood, rags, wastepaper, or straw to create Pulp. The EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for Pulp & paper industry aims to anticipate, prevent, minimize, or offset adverse environmental effects and social and other relevant factors associated with development proposals. The pulp and paper industry plays a crucial role in socio-economic development, but it is also associated with significant environmental concerns due to its substantial impact on environmental resources.

Stages in EIA for Pulp & Paper Industry

These projects are classified into two categories based on their pollution potential:

  • Category A: Includes pulp manufacturing and pulp & paper manufacturing industry.
  • Category B: Includes paper manufacturing industry without pulp manufacturing.

Screening

The screening stage in EIA for Pulp & paper industry is conducted at the early phase of project development to ensure that project proponents are aware of their responsibilities before finalizing the budget, project design, and execution plan. This stage is applicable only for Category ‘B’ projects. If general conditions apply to a Category B project, it will be treated as a Category A project. Additionally, screening involves classifying Category B projects into Category B1 or Category B2. Category B1 projects follow all the stages applicable to Category A projects but are processed at the SEIAA/UTEIAA. Category B2 projects, on the other hand, do not require EIA or public consultation.

Application for Prior Environmental Clearance

The project proponent must submit the filled-in Form 1, pre-feasibility report and draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for EIA studies, to the relevant authority. Category A projects require submission to the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF) in India, while Category B projects are submitted to the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).

Siting Guidelines

These guidelines are intended to help stakeholders minimize potential environmental impacts when selecting locations for developmental projects. Adhering to these guidelines may be challenging or unnecessary in certain situations, so they should be considered as much as possible when making decisions.

General Siting Factors

In any chosen site, the following factors should also be considered:

  • Forest land should not be converted into non-forest activities to sustain the industry.
  • Prime agricultural land should not be converted into industrial sites. Acquired land should be sufficiently large to accommodate appropriate green cover, including a green belt surrounding the industry’s boundaries.
  • The layout of the industry should conform to the area’s landscape without compromising its scenic features.
  • Associated townships should be created in areas with physical barriers between the industry and the township.

Scoping for EIA Studies

To obtain EIA for Pulp & paper industry, the scoping exercise is conducted once the project contours are defined. Its primary purpose is to identify concerns and issues that may impact project decisions and determine the requirements and boundaries of an EIA study. Scoping is the process through which the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) or State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) for Category A and Category B1 projects, respectively, establishes the Terms of Reference (ToR) for EIA studies, addressing all relevant environmental concerns for the preparation of an EIA Report.

The project proponent must apply to the relevant authority, attaching Form 1, the pre-feasibility report, and proposed ToR for EIA studies.

Pre-Feasibility Report

The pre-feasibility report should provide an overview of the proposed project, considering the selected site’s environmental sensitivities, raw materials, technology options, and availability. The specific information required in the pre-feasibility report may vary depending on the sector and the local environmental context of the plant. However, the environmental information that can be included in the report may consist of the Executive summary and project details with the description of the project, including:

  • The production processes’ main characteristics include the nature and quantity of materials used.
  • An estimation, by type and quantity, of expected residues and emissions resulting from the operation of the proposed project.
  • The physical characteristics of the entire project, the land-use requirements during the construction and operational phases.
    • Selection of site based on minimizing impacts:
  • An outline of the main alternatives and the reasons for choosing the proposed site, considering environmental effects.
  • Anticipated impacts on the receiving environment resulting from project operations.
  • A description of the aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the proposed project, including population, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, landscape, and the inter-relationship between these factors.

Environmental Management Plan (EMP)

EMP for obtaining EIA for Pulp & paper industry should consist of the following

  • Summary of potential impacts of the proposal.
  • Description of recommended mitigation measures.
  • Description of a monitoring program to ensure compliance with relevant standards and assess residual impacts.
  • Allocation of resources for plan implementation.
  • Implementation schedule and reporting procedures.
  • Contingency plan for cases where impacts exceed expectations.
  • A summary of predicted adverse environmental and social impacts for which mitigation measures are identified in earlier sections, with cross-references to the corresponding sections in the EIA report.

Public Consultation

Public consultation is the process of gathering the opinions and concerns of local affected people and other stakeholders who have a plausible interest in the environmental impacts of a project or activity. It is not a decision-making process but rather a means to collect the views of relevant stakeholders. If the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or the public agency conducting the consultation is not convinced of the stake presented, those views may not be considered. Public consultation consists of two components: public hearings and the invitation of written responses/objections through the internet, postal mail, etc., by making the summary of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report available on a website.

All Category A and Category B1 projects require public hearings, except for the following:

  • Once prior environmental clearance is granted to industrial estates/SEZs/EPZs, etc., for a specific composition (type and capacity) of industries, individual units within them will not require public hearings.
  • Expansion of roads and highways that do not involve further land acquisition.
  • Maintenance dredging provided that the dredged material is disposed of within port limits.
  • All building/construction projects, area development projects, and townships.
  • All Category B2 projects.
  • All projects related to national defence and security or involving other strategic considerations as determined by the Central Government.
  • Public hearings should be conducted at the project site or in close proximity, district-wise, to ascertain the concerns of the local affected people.

Decision Making

The Chairperson of the committee reviews the committee’s sentiments and finalizes the draft minutes of the meeting. The Secretary then circulates the minutes to all expert members invited to the meeting. Based on their responses, the Chairperson finalises and signs the minutes. This process of finalizing the minutes should be organized to ensure that the prescribed time for each stage is not exceeded.

Approval / Rejection

The Authority considers the recommendations of the relevant appraisal committee and conveys its decision within 45 days of receiving the recommendations.

If the Authority disagrees with the recommendations of the appraisal committee, it must communicate the reasons to the concerned committee and the applicant within 45 days of receiving the recommendations. The concerned appraisal committee then considers the Authority’s observations and provides its views on the observations within an additional 60 days. Based on the appraisal committee’s views, the Authority decides within the following 30 days.

Conclusion

EIA for Pulp & paper industry in assessing and mitigating the potential environmental impacts of such projects is a very crucial step to identify and evaluate the environmental consequences of the proposed pulp and paper plant, considering factors such as raw materials, production processes, emissions, waste management, and the overall project’s impact on the surrounding environment. It helps assess the project’s impacts and involve stakeholders; the EIA helps promote sustainable development and minimizes harm to the environment and local communities. It is highly recommended to take expert advice for environment clearance to obtain EIA in a hassle-free manner and to avoid penalties due to non-compliance.

FAQ

1.  What Is The Objective Of EIA For Pulp & Paper Industry?

The objectives include the following:

  • To explicitly address and incorporate environmental considerations into the decision-making process for development projects.
  • To safeguard the productivity and capacity of natural systems and the ecological processes that sustain their functions.
  • To promote sustainable development that optimizes resource utilization and management opportunities.

2. What Are The Categories In EIA For Pulp & Paper Industry?

The Categories in EIA for Pulp & paper industry are:

  • Category A: Includes pulp manufacturing and pulp & paper manufacturing industry.
  • Category B: Includes paper manufacturing industry without pulp manufacturing.

3. What Are The Major Environmental Issues Associated With Pulp And Paper Industry?

The environmental effects of paper production include deforestation, waste problems, use of enormous amounts of energy and water as well as air.

4. What Is The Prime Pollutant In The Pulp And Paper Industry?

The primary pollutants are hydrogen sulfides, sodium sulfide, sulfur, and chlorine dioxide, which are the main cause of chronic respiratory disorders and irritation of the skin, eyes and cardiac problems.

5. What Projects Require EIA?

EIA is usually required for developmental projects when protected areas are associated, such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves in the project area of influence.

Read Our Article: How To Obtain EIA For The Soda Ash Industry

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