- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process or study which predicts the effect of a proposed industrial/infrastructural project on the environment.
- It prevents any project from being approved which has a harsh effect on the environment and tries to give oversight to have solutions to the upcoming issues if the project is implemented.
- This process falls under Environmental Protection Act 1986.
- EIA covers projects such as mining of coal or other minerals, infrastructure development, thermal, nuclear and hydropower projects, real estate and other industrial projects.
- The projects are assessed based on their potential impact on the environment. Based on the assessments, they are granted or denied environmental clearance by a panel of experts.
Steps in EIA process
- EIS here means Environmental Impact Statement.
- It was in 1994 when the first norms of the EIA were notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. This notification was replaced by another one in 2006.
- The EIA Notification, 2006, broadly divides all projects into two categories—Category A and Category B—based on potential impacts over an area and on human health and natural and man-made resources.
- According to the notification, all Category A projects (with potentially significant impacts) are required to carry out an EIA and undertake a public hearing before an environmental clearance may be granted by the Union environment ministry.
- Category B projects (with potentially less significant impacts) are evaluated and given a clearance by state level authorities, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).
- Moreover, projects under Category B1 also require an EIA and public consultation, but those falling under B2 are exempted from requirements of both EIA and public consultation.
- The Government of India has put up new draft EIA rules and has asked for public opinion on this.
- The new draft rules are facing opposition from different sectors and environmentalists.
- The following are some of the changes prescribed in the new draft rules:
- The EIA new draft 2020 allows post-facto clearance. This means that a project can get environmental clearance after it has started the project.
- There is a list of the selected projects in the new draft that have been proposed to be exempted from public participation. Modernisation projects, irrigation projects, all building constructions and area development projects, expansion or widening of national highways, all projects concerning national defence and security, are part of the list.
- The time allotted for public hearings has been reduced to expedite the process.
- It has called for all those projects which have not got environmental clearance to apply and get clearance. This gives space to illegal projects to get sanctioned and approved.
- Authorities earlier were asked to check the compliance of the projects every 6 months, but now this period has been extended to 1 year.
- Any drastic changes in EIA will have a direct impact on the living and working conditions of people like adivasis, fishing communities and the ecology.
Why in the news?
- The website fridaysforfuture.in was being used to build up protest against the proposed EIA rules 2020.
- The Cyber crime unit of Delhi police has shut down the website fridaysforfuture after receiving complaint from the Environment ministry.
- Fridaysforfuture is an initiative started by Environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Sweden to push for environmental reforms.