EIA expands to Environment Impact Assessment. It is defined as a tool to study the effects and consequences of a project on the environment. Its fundamental aim is to compare the alternatives available and then evaluate them based on environmental and economic costs and benefits it provides. The one that is the best in both financial and ecological benefits and costs is selected and approved.
History of Environment Impact Assessment in India:
Till 1994, India did not have any legislation backing the environment impact assessment. It was an administrative decision in the hands of the Central government. The need for EIA was felt for the first time in 1976-77 when the planning commission of India directed the Department of Science and Technology to determine and evaluate the river-valley projects from the environmental perspective. After that, it was extended and began to cover those projects, which required the prior approval of the Public Investment Board.
But finally, in the year 1994, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests notified EIA notification under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 providing to make the environmental clearance (EC) mandatory for setting up new projects and expanding the existing projects as listed under schedule 1 of the notification. Since 1994, a lot of amendments have been made to the information.
The last amendment was in 2006. While in the year 2020, the Ministry of Environment and Forests introduced a draft, it hasn't been implemented yet. This is how Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) came into being in India.
Process of EIA:
The process of EIA varies from country to country. However, in all the nations, there are some similar steps followed in the EIA procedure. There are, in total, eight steps that are observed in the EIA process. It begins with the stage of screening and ends with a post-monitoring. These all the steps are described briefly here as follows:
1. Screening: In the first stage of EIA, it is determined whether the particular project in hand requires EIA or not. If it is necessary, then the level of assessment is done.
2. Scoping: In this second stage, further issues and impacts are investigated. This stage also attempts to define the boundaries and time limit of the study.
3. Impact Analysis: As the name suggests, this stage is mainly concerned with the impact that the proposed study will have on the environment. Apart from this, it also signifies and looks upon the social impact on the environment.
4. Mitigation: Mitigation means to reduce. So, in this step, the authority recommends reducing and mitigating the adverse effects of developmental activities on the environment.
5. Reporting: After all the procedure is followed, the report is prepared based on results derived. The statements and all the necessary information are shared with the decision-making authority and other related parties.
6. Review of EIA: Review means to reconsider the document. In this stage, the adequacy and effectiveness of EIA are determined, and the information is shared with the competent parties.
7. Decision making: This is the stage where it is determined whether the project will be rejected, accepted, or once again requested for further changes.
8. Post monitoring: This is the last stage which starts when the project is commissioned. It is done to ensure that the impact project does not exceed legal and other standards and works following the report.
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