Environment Impact Assessment
- The United Nations hosted its first Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972 which resulted in the Stockholm Declaration of 1972.
- The declaration emphasizes to lessen air, land, and water pollution and human impact on the environment.
- India enacted laws to control water (1974) and air (1981) pollution soon after.
- India legislated an umbrella act for environmental protection in 1986 only after the Bhopal gas leak disaster in 1984.
- India notified Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Norms in 1994 under Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
- Environment Impact Assessment or EIA can be defined as the study to predict the effect of a proposed activity/project on the environment.
- Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance.
- Screening: Determines whether the proposed project requires an EIA
- Scoping: This stage identifies the key issues and impacts that should be further investigated.
- Impact analysis: This stage of EIA identifies and predicts the likely environmental and social impact of the proposed project and evaluates the significance.
- Mitigation: This step in EIA recommends the actions to reduce and avoid the potential adverse environmental consequences of development activities.
- Reporting: This stage presents the result of EIA in a form of a report to the decision-making body and other interested parties.
- Review of EIA: It examines the adequacy and effectiveness of the EIA report and provides the information necessary for decision-making.
- Decision-making: It decides whether the project is rejected, approved or needs further change.
- Post monitoring: This stage comes into play once the project is commissioned. It checks to ensure that the impacts of the project do not exceed the legal standards and implementation of the mitigation measures are in the manner as described in the EIA report.
Shortcomings of EIA Process
- Several projects with significant environmental impacts are exempted citing lesser investments conditions.
- Team formed for conducting EIA studies is lacking the expertise
- Public comments are not considered at an early stage
- Lack of Quality and Credibility of EIA
- Strong political and bureaucratic stronghold on the EIA process
- The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006 by reducing the number of stages in EIA.
- Now the government redrafted it again to make the process more transparent and expedient.
- The 2020 draft offers no remedy for the political and bureaucratic stronghold on the EIA process
- No information on projects concerning national defence and security shall be placed in the public domain.
- This opens a window for summary clearance for any project deemed strategic without having to explain why.
- Additionally, the new draft exempts a long list of projects from public consultation. For example, projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing. The ‘border area’ is defined as “area falling within 100 kilometres aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India.” That would cover much of the Northeast, the repository of the country’s richest biodiversity.
- Exempts most building construction projects of built-up area up to 1,50,000 sq m.
- Projects operating in violation of the Environment Act will now be able to apply for clearance by paying more to the ecological damage caused.
Why in News?
The Delhi High Court extended till August 11 the time for giving suggestions to the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2020.
[…] Along with raising concerns the committee recommended it for grant of terms of reference (TOR) for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies, which in the first instance will include baseline studies over three months. Read more about EIA on https://officerspulse.com/environment-impact-assessment/ […]