From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in India
Mains level : EIA and its stages
To address unprecedented situation arising from the global outbreak of COVID-19 and to ramp up availability or production of various drugs, the MoEFCC has made an amendment to EIA Notification 2006.
EIA is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse. Its a hot topic for mains.
What is the amendment about?
- All projects or activities in respect of bulk drugs and intermediates, manufactured for addressing various ailments, have been re-categorized from the existing Category ‘A’ to ‘B2’ category.
- Projects falling under Category B2 are exempted from the requirement of collection of Baseline data, EIA Studies and public consultation.
- The re-categorization of such proposals has been done to facilitate decentralization of appraisal to State Level so as to fast track the process.
Projects Categorization and Clearance under EIA
- 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.
Back2Basics: 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 the 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.