Friday, 18 July 2014 10:15


Environmental Impact Assessment is an exercise which is to be carried out before any project or major activity is undertaken to ensure that it will not in any way harm the environment on a short term or long term basis.

Any developmental endeavour requires not only the analysis of the need of such a project, the monetary costs and benefits involved but most important, it requires a consideration and detailed assessment of the effect of a proposed development on the environment.  The environment impact process was introduced with the purpose of identifying /evaluating the potential beneficial and adverse impacts of development projects on the environment, taking into account environmental, social, cultural and aesthetic considerations. All of these considerations are critical to determine the viability of a project and to decide if a project should be granted environmental clearance.

An EIA concentrates on problems, conflicts and natural resource constraints which might affect the viability of a project. It also predicts how the project could harm people, their homeland, their livelihoods, and other nearby developmental activities. After predicting potential impacts, the EIA identifies measures to minimize the impacts and suggests ways to improve the project viability.

The aim of an EIA is to ensure that potential impacts are identified and addressed at an early stage in the project planning and design. To achieve this aim, the assessment findings are communicated to all the relevant groups who will make decisions about the proposed projects, the project developers and their investors as well as regulators, planners and the politicians. Having read the conclusions of an environmental impact assessment, project planners and engineers can shape the project so that its benefits can be obtained and sustained without causing adverse impacts.

In recent years, major projects have encountered serious difficulties because insufficient account has been taken of their relationship with the surrounding environment. Some projects have been found to be unsustainable because of resource depletion. Others have been abandoned because of public opposition, financially encumbered by unforeseen costs, held liable for damages to natural resources and even been the cause of disastrous accidents.

Given this experience, it is very   risky to undertake finance, or approve a major project without first taking into account its environmental consequences and then sitting and designing the project so as to minimize adverse impacts.  The role for EIA was formally recognized at the earth summit held at Rio conference in 1992.

The EIA process in India is made up of the following phases:

• Screening is done to see whether a project requires environmental clearance as per the statutory notifications.

• Scoping is a process of detailing the terms of reference of EIA.

• Baseline data collection describes the existing environmental status of the identified study area.

• Impact prediction is a way of mapping the environmental consequences of the significant aspects of the project and its alternatives.

• Assessment of alternatives, delineation of mitigation measures and environmental impact statement.

• Public hearing is that the public must be informed and consulted on a proposed development after the completion of EIA report.

• Decision making process involves consultation between the project proponent and the impact assessment authority.

• Monitoring the clearance conditions.