From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : EIA in India
Mains level : Read the attached story
A set of key updates to India’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act has been proposed to reduce the time given to people to air objections.
Features proposed by the amendment
- The draft EIA notification proposes to be an update to the EIA of 2006, which specifies a “minimum of 30 days” for people to respond.
- The current version of the update, which will likely become law in 60 days, gives a “minimum of 20 days” of notice period.
- The public hearing process is considered a key component of the EIA. An organisation has to submit a detailed plan, as part of the EIA process that details the nature, need, potential impact and remedial measures, if their proposed infrastructure project threatens to significantly impact a region.
- It also requires that the public-hearing process be wrapped up in 40 days, as opposed to the existing norm of 45 days.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in India
- EIA is a management tool to minimize adverse impacts of developmental projects on the environment and to achieve sustainable development through timely, adequate, corrective and protective mitigation measures.
- The MoEFCC uses EIA Notification 2006 as a major tool for minimizing the adverse impact of rapid industrialization on the environment and for reversing those trends which may lead to climate change in long run.
- EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental (Protection Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.
- Screening: This stage decides which projects a full or partial assessment need study.
- Scoping: This stage decides which impacts are necessary to be assessed. This is done based on legal requirements, international conventions, expert knowledge and public engagement. This stage also finds out alternate solutions that avoid or at least reduce the adverse impacts of the project.
- Assessment & evaluation of impacts and development of alternatives: This stage predicts and identifies the environmental impacts of the proposed project and also elaborates on the alternatives.
- EIA Report: In this reporting stage, an environmental management plan (EMP) and also a non-technical summary of the project’s impact is prepared for the general public. This report is also called the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
- Decision making: The decision on whether the project is to be given approval or not and if it is to be given, under what conditions.
- Monitoring, compliance, enforcement and environmental auditing: This stage monitors whether the predicted impacts and the mitigation efforts happen as per the EMP.
Scope of Environmental Clearance (EC)
- Environmental clearance is required in respect of all new projects or activities listed in the Schedule to the 2006 notification and their expansion and modernization, including any change in product –mix.
- Since EIA 2006 the various developmental projects have been re-categorised into category ‘A’ and category ‘B’ depending on their threshold capacity and likely pollution potential.
- They require prior EC respectively from MOEFCC or the concerned State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs).
- Where state level authorities have not been constituted, the clearance would be provided by the MOEFCC.