Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 6, 2022, 5:47

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) assesses the probable environmental repercussions of a proposed project or development, taking into account interconnected socio-economic, cultural, and human-health repercussions, both positive and negative.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool used by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to determine a project's environmental, social, and economic implications before making a decision. Its goal is to predict the impact on the environment even before the project begins, develop strategies to minimise all the negative impacts, curate or create projects suitable to the local environment, and provide decision-makers with options and foreseeing.

The Environment Protection Act of 1986, which incorporates numerous EIA methodology and process rules, offers legal backing for environmental impact assessments in India.

History of Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment has been practised in India for more than two decades. It began in 1976-77 when the Planning Commission requested that the Department of Science and Technology investigate the river-valley projects from an environmental standpoint. Until 1994, the Central Government's environmental clearance was purely administrative, with no statutory backing.

Under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, the then-Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued an EIA notification on January 27, 1994, requiring Environmental Clearance (EC) for any expansion or modernisation of any activity, as well as for the establishment of new projects listed in Schedule 1 of the notification.

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New EIA regulations were announced by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in September 2006. Various projects, including mining, thermal power plants, river valleys, infrastructure (roads, highways, ports, harbours, and airports), and industries, including very tiny electroplating or foundry units, are now required to obtain environmental clearance under the notification.

Unlike the EIA Notification of 1994, however, the new legislation places the burden of project clearance on the state government based on the project's size and capacity.

Environmental Impact Assessment Process

There are different steps involved in the Environmental Impact Assessment Process. Those steps are:

  • Screening: The plan of the project is checked for its size, location, and type of development, also if there is a requirement for any legislative intervention.
  • Scoping: The project's possible effects, impact zones, mitigating options, and monitoring requirements.
  • Baseline Data Collection: The environmental status of the research area is the baseline data.
  • Prediction of the impact: All kinds of impacts, whether temporary or permanent, have to be predicted as the assessment agency needs to understand any impact that the product will create.
  • The EIA report and the mitigation measures: The activities and steps for preventing, minimising, or passing the consequences, should be included in the EIA report.
  • Public hearing: Public and environmental groups near the project site may be informed and consulted when the EIA report is completed.
  • Decision Making: The Impact Assessment Authority, consults different specialists related to the project bearing EIA and EMP in mind (Environment Management Plan).
  • Implementation and Monitoring: All phases must be monitored, and the implementation must be foreseen.
  • Alternatives Evaluation, Mitigation Measures Delineation, and Environmental Impact Assessment Report: Alternatives must be established for each project, and environmental features should be examined. Following the evaluation of options, a mitigation strategy for the chosen option should be developed, reinforced by an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to assist the proponent toward environmental improvements.

The Environmental Impact Assessment tries to create a link between development and sustainability. Also, it aims to minimise the adverse effects of different developmental activities on the environment.

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FAQs on Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]

Q.1. Which board is part of the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]?

The Pollution Control Board is an important part of the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA].

Q.2. What are the two categories of developmental projects under the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]?

The two categories of developmental projects under the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] are:

  • Category A or the National Level Appraisal
  • Category B or the State Level Appraisal

Q.3. What are the four stages of the EIA cycle post the 2006 amendment of the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]?

The four cycles of the EIA cycle of Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] are as follows -

  • Screening
  • Scoping
  • Public Hearing
  • Appraisal

Q.4. What are the Types of Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]?

They are strategic EIA, regional EIA, sectoral EIA, project-level EIA and life cycle assessment.

Q.5. What are the Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA]?

The Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] are identifying, predicting, and evaluating economic, environmental, and social impacts of development activities.