Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool that links the environment with developmental activities. It is an assessment of the impact of social development on environmental health. It is a participatory tool for informed decision making. It ensures that the development of a project is environmentally sound and sustainable. The Ministry of Environment and Forest under the Environmental Protection Act of 1986, initiated the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 1994. It was reengineered in 2006.
The core values of EIA:
- Integrity: it ensures that the project is in agreement with standard and good principles.
- Utility: a balanced approach and a credible information for decision making process
- Sustainability: an environmentally sound development with a regenerative capacity of the resources.
Steps involved in the EIA process:
- Screening: it takes into account whether a project requires environmental clearance as per the statutory requirements or not.
- Scoping: it is the preliminary assessment. It scans the Ministry’s guidelines to see which significant issues are to be addressed in the EIA study.
- Baseline Data: it monitors the existing data and the environmental status of the area under study. It learns it and supplements it with secondary data.
- Impact prediction: it is the most important analysis. It involves assessment of impacts of projects. Impacts can be:
- Primary/ direct
- Secondary/ indirect
- Cumulative impact
- Of various durations
- Mitigation measures and EIA report: it involves the possible alternatives and comparison of the environmental attributes.
- Public Hearing Law: the public has to be informed and consulted on any development after the completion of EIA report through local associations, environmental groups, etc.
- Decision Making: it involves the consultation between the project proponent and the impact assessment authority.
- Monitoring as per the clearance conditions: it has to be done during both construction and operation phases of the project.
- Risk assessment: it mainly involves the hazard identifications including any probability of natural hazards.
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