Mandatory EIA reporting is vital in supporting sustainable development by evaluating significant environmental effects’ positive or negative consequences. Its primary objective is to assist decision-makers and managers in determining whether to proceed with a project or not. The EIA is employed to identify the environmental impacts of larger-scale initiatives. It is a proactive, inclusive, and methodical process that draws on insights from various fields of study. The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF) has divided 39 sectors into categories that necessitate Environmental Clearance before initiating any project activity, and this is where EIA becomes essential. These sectors are grouped based on the type of activities they engage in and the project’s geographic scope.
EIA and its Reporting
- Mandatory EIA reporting examines the potential environmental effects of a proposed project or development, considering the interconnected socio-economic, cultural, and human-health impacts, both positive and negative.
- According to UNEP, EIA is a tool utilised to assess a project’s environmental, social, and economic consequences before making decisions. Its objective is to anticipate environmental impacts during the primary stages of project planning and design, identify ways to mitigate adverse effects, tailor projects to suit the local environment, and present predictions and options to decision-makers.
- In India, Environment Impact Assessment is legally supported by the Environment Protection Act of 1986, which includes various provisions regarding EIA methodology and process.
Mandatory EIA reporting
The sectors that require Mandatory EIA reporting can be classified into the following major categories:-
|1||Mining of minerals, including opencast and underground mining.|
|2||Offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production.|
|3||River valley, drainage, hydel, and irrigation projects.|
|4||Thermal power plants.|
|5||Nuclear power projects and nuclear fuel processing.|
|7||Mineral beneficiation, including pelletisation.|
|8||Metallurgical industries, both ferrous and non-ferrous, encompassing primary and secondary processes.|
|10||Petroleum refining industry.|
|11||Coke oven plants.|
|12||Asbestos milling and asbestos-based products.|
|14||Soda ash industry.|
|15||Leather/skin/hide processing industry.|
|17||Pesticides industry and pesticide-specific intermediates, excluding formulations.|
|18||Petrochemical complexes are based on processing petroleum fractions and natural gas and reforming them to aromatics.|
|19||The textile industry involves cotton and man-made fibres.|
|20||Petrochemical-based processing, excluding cracking, reformation, and processes not covered under the complexes.|
|21||Synthetic organic chemicals industry, including dyes and dye intermediates, bulk drugs and intermediates (excluding drug formulations), synthetic rubbers, basic organic chemicals, and other synthetic organic chemicals and intermediates.|
|23||Integrated paint industry.|
|24||The pulp and paper industry excludes the manufacture of paper from wastepaper and production without bleaching.|
|26||Furnaces, including induction, arc, cupola, submerged arc, and crucible furnaces, as well as re-heating furnaces with a capacity exceeding 5 tonnes per heat.|
|27||Oil and gas transportation pipelines (crude and refinery/petrochemical products) pass through national parks, sanctuaries, coral reefs, and ecologically sensitive areas, including LNG terminals.|
|28||Isolated storage and handling of hazardous chemicals, as per threshold planning quantity of the MSIHC Rules 1989 (amended 2000).|
|30||Shipbreaking yards, including ship breaking units.|
|31||Industrial estates/parks/complexes/areas, export processing zones (EPZs), special economic zones (SEZs), biotech parks, and leather complexes.|
|32||Common hazardous waste storage, treatment, and disposal facilities (TSDFs).|
|33||Ports, harbours, jetties, marine terminals, breakwaters, and dredging.|
|34||Highways, railways, transport terminals, and mass rapid transport systems.|
|36||Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs).|
|37||Common Municipal Solid Waste Management Facility (CMSWMF).|
|38||Building and large construction projects, including multiplexes, commercial complexes, shopping malls, housing estates, hospitals, and institutions.|
|39||Townships and area development projects.|
Additional Sectors that require Mandatory EIA reporting apart from the 39 mandatory sectors:-
- Automobile and Auto Components.
- Electroplating and Metal Coating.
- Electrical and Electronics, including the component industry.
- Glass and Ceramic Industry.
- Food Processing.
Several projects currently do not fall under the list of sectors requiring Environmental Impact Assessment. It is necessary to re-evaluate such projects in the future to consider their inclusion in the list of sectors. This would enable them to benefit from the identification of initial environmental and social impacts.
EIA Notification 2006
The 2006 Amendments to the EIA Notification introduced significant features, including decentralising the environmental clearance process into two categories:-
- Category A (appraised at the national level)
- Category B (appraised at the state level).
Category A projects are evaluated by the Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) at the national level, while Category B projects undergo appraisal only at the state level.
State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) are established to provide clearance for Category B projects.
The EIA cycle, after the 2006 Amendments, consists of four stages:-
- Public Hearing
Category A projects require Mandatory EIA reporting and skip the screening process. Category B projects undergo the screening process and are further classified into Category B1 (requiring EIA) and Category B2 (not requiring EIA). Category A and B1 projects go through the complete EIA process, while Category B2 projects are excluded from the full EIA process.
Mandatory EIA reporting helps in promoting a sustainable and responsible development environment in the country. By evaluating the potential environmental, social, and economic impacts of proposed projects, EIA provides decision-makers with essential information to make informed choices. The 2006 Amendments to the EIA Notification have decentralised the clearance process, categorising projects into Category A and Category B, thereby streamlining the appraisal process at the national and state levels. EIA ensures that projects are assessed for their environmental viability, allowing for identifying and implementing mitigation measures to minimise adverse impacts. It fosters a proactive approach, integrating environmental considerations into developmental plans at an early stage. EIA ensures that developmental projects align with environmental concerns and operate within ecosystem assimilation and regeneration capacity limits. It is recommended to take expert consultation for obtaining EIA in the mandatory sectors in order to identify whether your business falls within the purview of compulsory EIA.
To ensure whether a developmental project requires EIA or not, one must refer to the list of sectors that require EC that is provided in the EIA Notification, 2006. The assessment authority will determine if it requires EIA after a screening process. This will determine whether your proposed development will significantly affect the environment.
Apart from projects exempted from EIA in the EIA Notification of 2006, the government also comes with exemption criteria through amendments and office memorandum for projects are of strategic and defence importance, which are within 100 km from the Line of Control, among other locations, from an environmental clearance before construction.
EIA is generally required for a developmental project when protected areas like national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves are in the project area of influence.
According to UNEP, EIA is a tool utilised to assess a project’s environmental, social, and economic consequences before making decisions. Its objective is to anticipate environmental impacts during the primary stages of project planning and design, identify ways to mitigate adverse effects, tailor projects to suit the local environment, and present predictions and options to decision-makers.
The importance of EIA lies in its ability to connect the environment and development, promoting environmentally safe and sustainable development. It offers a cost-effective approach to mitigating or minimising developmental projects’ adverse impacts. By conducting EIA, decision-makers can analyse the environmental effects of development activities before implementation, encouraging the integration of mitigation strategies into the project plan.
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