Environment Impact AssessmentSubmitted to:Ms Sruthi Herbert,School of Social Work,Marian College, Kuttikkanam.Submitted by:Bimal Antony,II MSW, No. 111,School of Social Work,Marian College, Kuttikkanam.Date of Submission:9thApril 2012.
IntroductionEnvironmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a relatively new planning and decision making toolfirst enshrined in the United States in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. It is aformal study process used to predict the environmental consequences of any development project.It is a technique which is meant to help us understand the potential environmental impacts ofmajor development proposals. It gives a view of the actors involved in the ‘development-environment’ linkages. This is required in view of the fact that the community at large is alwaysat a loss in terms of deterioration of living environment that accompanies industrial development.Based on Environmental Assessment, the regulatory measures can be identified and the roles ofconcerned agencies defined for achieving more efficient environmental management.What is EIA?EIA is just an information gathering exercise carried out by the developer and other bodies whichenables a Local Planning Authority to understand the environmental affects of a developmentbefore deciding whether or not it should go ahead. The really important thing aboutenvironmental assessments is the emphasis on using the best available sources of objectiveinformation and in carrying out a systematic and holistic process which should be bias free andallow the local authority and the whole community to properly understand the impact of theproposed development. Environmental impact assessment is meant to be a systematic processwhich leads to a final product, the Environmental Statement (ES).EIA is an iterative process. The key stages in the process include proposal identification,screening, scoping, impact assessment, mitigation, review, decision making and follow up. GoodEIA is integrated into the project development process and is not seen as a barrier to development.Definition"Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process of assessing the likely environmentalimpacts of a proposal and identifying options to minimise environmental damage. The mainpurpose of EIA is to inform decision makers of the likely impacts of a proposal before a decisionis made. EIA provides an opportunity to identify key issues and stakeholders early in the life of aproposal so that potentially adverse impacts can be addressed before final approval decisions aremade." (Australian EIA Network).Immediate objectives of EIA are to:improve the environmental design of the proposal;check the environmental acceptability of the proposals compared to the capacity of the siteand the receiving environment;ensure that resources are used appropriately and efficiently;identify appropriate measures for mitigating the potential impacts of the proposal; andfacilitate informed decision making, including setting the environmental terms andconditions for implementing the proposal.
Long term objectives of EIA are to:avoid irreversible changes and serious damage to the environment;safeguard valuable resources, natural areas and ecosystem components;enhance the social aspects of proposals; andprotect human health and safety.History of EIAEIA is one of the successful policy innovations of the 20th Century for environmentalconservation. Thirty-seven years ago, there was no EIA but today, it is a formal process in manycountries and is currently practiced in more than 100 countries. EIA as a mandatory regulatoryprocedure originated in the early 1970s, with the implementation of the National EnvironmentPolicy Act (NEPA) 1969 in the US. Much of the initial development was in a small number ofhigh-income countries, like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (1973-74). However, there weresome developing countries as well, which introduced EIA relatively early - Columbia (1974),Philippines (1978). The EIA process really took off after the mid-1980s. In 1989, the World Bankadopted EIA for major development project, in which borrower country had to undertake the EIAunder the Banks supervision.Stages/process in an EIAThe EIA process is an iterative one containing many feedback loops to allow the developmentproposal to be continually refined. So whilst the process of EIA follows a number of commonlyaccepted steps, it does not observe a linear pattern. The EIA process is summarised in the figurebelow.PPuubblliiccIInnvvoollvveemmeennttPPrrooppoossaallIIddeennttiiffiiccaattiioonnMMiittiiggaattiioonnEEnnvviirroonnmmeennttaall SSttaatteemmeennttFFoollllooww uuppSSccooppiinnggSSccrreeeenniinnggIImmppaacctt AAnnaallyyssiissRReevviieewwDDeecciissiioonn MMaakkiinnggFeedback Loops
Proposal IdentificationA large number of decisions are made at the project identification and proposal developmentstage. Decisions are made regarding:the location of the developmentthe land uses the development will cater forthe scale, layout and design of the development.If environmental issues are considered at this point in the development process, impacts can besignificantly reduced and in some cases removed altogether. The advantages and disadvantages ofthe alternatives should be investigated, not only in environmental terms but also in terms of costeffectiveness, reasonableness and feasibility. The assessment of alternatives will result in thedevelopment of a preferred project proposal, which should then be the subject of a screeningassessment.ScreeningScreening is undertaken to decide whether an EIA is required and focus resources on projectsmost likely to have significant impacts, those where impacts are uncertain and those whereenvironmental management input is likely to be required. Official EIA guidelines usually containlists or schedules specifying which developments require an EIA. These criteria include:development characteristicscharacteristics of the locationcharacteristics of potential effectsScopingDuring the scoping stage the key issues that the EIA will address are identified. Effective scopingwill ensure that the EIA focuses on those areas where significant effects are likely, thereforepreventing resources being used to address issues where no significant effects are likely. A goodscoping process will consist of three key components:consultation with relevant stakeholders and interested parties to provide them withinformation on the development proposal and what technically appear to be the key issuesand to find out what their key concerns are regarding the location and the developmentproposal;analysis of the issues identified during consultation to determine which are likely to besignificant and therefore must be included within the scope of the EIA; andnegotiation with the decision makers and other interested parties to refine the scope of theEIA.
There are a number of issues that are considered (to varying depths) within the scope of themajority of EIAs. These include:landscape and visualecologyland usetraffic and transportair qualitynoisewaterground conditionsarchaeologycultural heritageImpact AnalysisImpact analysis involves characterising the impact in terms of its likely nature, spatial andtemporal distribution, duration, frequency, reversibility and magnitude. Finally a judgement mustbe made as to whether the impact is likely to be significant or not.A large number of impact analysis techniques exist, each have their advantages anddisadvantages. Impact analysis techniques can be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitativetechniques tend to involve a prescriptive method being set out and followed whereas qualitativetechniques rely less upon a prescribed method instead relying heavily upon professionaljudgement. The nature of the environmental media being assessed will determine the mostappropriate impact analysis technique.MitigationWhere impact analysis identifies that a development is likely to give rise to significantenvironmental impacts, mitigation measures are proposed to avoid, reduce and if possible, remedythem. As mentioned briefly in the section on proposal identification above, mitigation measurescan be incorporated into the design of the development. ‘End of pipe’ mitigation measures canalso be incorporated into the development at a later stage.Environmental StatementThe environmental statement is the vehicle used to communicate the results of the EIA to thedecision maker and other stakeholders in the development process.The environmental statement should objectively document the EIA process and findings givingequal prominence to positive and negative impacts relative to their importance. The ES should beclear and concise. Because non specialists are likely to read the document technical languageshould be avoided. Any necessary technical information should be provided in appendices.
ReviewQuality control is an important stage in any EIA. A review of the quality of the environmentalstatement is a way of demonstrating that:the ES has met all the appropriate legal requirementsthe ES contains sufficient information to allow a decision to be madethe ES is consistent with current good practiceA review of the ES can be undertaken at the draft stage or after finalisation. The earlier the reviewtakes place the greater the influence it can have over the quality of the ES.Decision MakingThis is the point in the process where the development is either granted planning permission ornot. It is necessary at this stage for the environmental statement to be made available to a numberof statutory consultees, the public and other stakeholders. When making a decision on theapplication decision makers are required to consider all relevant environmental information,including the environmental statement and the opinions of statutory consultees, the public andother stakeholders. Environmental information is only one of many material considerations thatthe decision maker must take into account. The decision maker will also consider social andeconomic information, current planning policies and the relevant local developmentframework/local plan. The final decision will be based upon all of these things.Follow UpFollow up is very important in EIA. It is the stage where the mitigation measures proposed withinthe environmental statement are actually implemented. It is also the stage where any necessarymonitoring of impacts is undertaken. A common tool for ensuring that the measures proposed areimplemented is a management plan. Management plans demonstrate a clear commitment tomonitoring and mitigation measures and illustrate that the developer values the environment andthe EIA process.EIA in IndiaThe Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) of India have been in a great effort inEnvironmental Impact Assessment in India. The main laws in nation are Water Act(1974), TheIndian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972), The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1981)and The Environment (Protection) Act (1986). The responsible body for this is Central PollutionControl Board. EIC is the repository of one stop secondary data source for environmental impactassessment in India.History of EIA in IndiaThe Indian experience with Environmental Impact Assessment began over 30 years back. Itstarted in 1976-77 when the Planning Commission asked the Department of Science and
Technology to examine the river-valley projects from environmental angle. This wassubsequently extended to cover those projects, which required approval of the Public InvestmentBoard. Till 1994, environmental clearance from the central government was an administrativedecision and lacked the legislative support.On 27 January 1994, the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), government ofIndia, under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, promulgated EIA notification makingEnvironmental Clearance (EC) mandatory for expansion or modernisation of any activity or forsetting up new projects listed in Schedule 1 of the notification. Since then there have been 12amendments made in EIA notification of 1994.The Indian ExperienceExperience on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in India indicates that lack of availabilityof timely and reliable environmental data has been the major bottleneck in preparing quality EIAreports. Since environment is a multidisciplinary area, a multitude of agencies are involved in thecollection of environmental data in India. However, there is no single organization in India thattracks the data available among the multitude of data generators and makes it available in theform and manner required by the practitioners in the field of EIA. This in turn affects theeffectiveness of EIA process by causing delays in conducting EIAs and in reviewing the EIAreports for Environmental Clearance (EC). Further, the environmental data is often not availablein a processed or value added form that can possibly enhance the quality of environmentaldecision making to address these issues, Environmental Information Centre (EIC) was conceivedto act as a clearinghouse of environmental data needed for preparation and review of EIAs. EICdata is also used as a project level decision support system for:Site selectionEcological degradation or improvements over timeEarly warning system for Glacier Lake OutburstsCatchment area degradationDetermination of Environmental StatusList of projects requiring environmental clearance from the central government1. Nuclear Power and related projects such as Heavy Water Plants, nuclear fuel complex,Rare Earths.2. River Valley projects including hydel power, major Irrigation & their combinationincluding flood control.3. Ports, Harbours, Airports (except minor ports and harbours).4. Petroleum Refineries including crude and product pipelines.5. Chemical Fertilizers (Nitrogenous and Phosphatic other than single superphosphate).6. Pesticides (Technical).7. Petrochemical complexes (Both Olefinic and Aromatic) and Petro-chemical intermediatessuch as DMT, Caprolactam, LAB etc. and production of basic plastics such as LLDPE,HDPE, PP, PVC.
8. Bulk drugs and pharmaceuticals.9. Exploration for oil and gas and their production, transportation and storage.10. Synthetic Rubber.11. Asbestos and Asbestos products.12. Hydrocyanic acid and its derivatives.13. (a) Primary metallurgical industries (such as production of Iron and Steel, Aluminium,Copper, Zinc, Lead and Ferro Alloys).(b) Electric arc furnaces (Mini Steel Plants).14. Chlor alkali industry.15. Integrated paint complex including manufacture of resins and basic raw materials requiredin the manufacture of paints.16. Viscose Staple fibre and filament yarn.17. Storage batteries integrated with manufacture of oxides of lead and lead antimony alloys.18. All tourism projects between 200m—500 metres of High Water Line and at locations withan elevation of more than 1000 metres with investment of more than Rs.5 crores.19. Thermal Power Plants.20. Mining projects (major minerals) with leases more than 5 hectares.21. Highway Projects except projects relating to improvement work including widening andstrengthening of roads with marginal land acquisition along the existing alignmentsprovided it does not pass through ecologically sensitive areas such as National Parks,Sanctuaries, Tiger Reserves, Reserve Forests.22. Tarred Roads in the Himalayas and or Forest areas.23. Distilleries.24. Raw Skins and Hides25. Pulp, paper and newsprint.26. Dyes.27. Cement.28. Foundries (individual)29. Electroplating30. Meta amino phenolDraw backs in the Indian systemOne of the biggest concerns with the environmental clearance process is related to the quality ofEIA report that are being carried out. The reports are generally incomplete and provided withfalse data. EIA reports ignore several aspects while carrying out assessments and significantinformation is found to be omitted. Many EIA report are based on single season data and are notadequate to determine whether environmental clearance should be granted. All this makes theentire exercise contrary to its very intent.It is being found that the team formed for conducting EIA studies is lacking the expertisein various fields such as Anthropologists and Social Scientists (to study the social impactof the project) or even wild life experts.
There is a lack of exhaustive ecological and socio-economic indicators for impactassessment.Public comments are not taken into account at the early stage, which often leads toconflict at the later stage of project clearance.There is always a lack of reliable data sources.The secondary data is also not reliable.The data collectors do not pay respect to the indigenous knowledge of local people.The credibility of the primary data collected by the data collectors is doubtful.The detail method used for the prediction and evaluation of the project is not mentioned inthe report. Limited explanations are given both to quantitative estimation of magnitude ofimpact and to the assumptions and judgments used in the evaluation of impacts.The limited coverage of scoping is confined mainly to direct impacts.Details regarding the effectiveness and implementation of mitigation measures are oftennot provided.Often, and more so for strategic industries such as nuclear energy projected, the EMP s arekept confidential for political and administrative reasonsEmergency preparedness plans are not discussed in sufficient details and the informationnot disseminated to the communities.ConclusionThe MoEF should provide specialised education and training to the staff of IAA and the PCBs.IAA and PCB staffs are the authorities responsible for the implementation of the EIA system.Therefore, a through understanding of public consultation and knowledge of the variouscomponents of the EIA studies such as the environment and social factors will provide benefitsthat will improve the quality of studies conducted. Training, especially in social sciences, willimprove and further ensure that the proponents and consultants comply with the social aspects ofEIA and adequately address public concerns. In addition, persons with social backgrounds shouldbe hired by the Mom and PCBs to manage the social aspects of EIA.Information is important for creating awareness. One of the key conditions for managing theenvironment is information, such as knowledge about the environment and linkages between theenvironment and human environment (Gresham, et al., 1997). Participation is a function ofinformation through which people come to share a development vision, make choices, andmanage activities (World Bank, 1996b). People who participate are found to have better massmedia contact and education (Muthayya, 1995)- It is important to note that lack of technicaleducation is not a constraint on intelligence and the ability to understand ones surroundings(Environmental Protection Agency, 1996).
References:1. Claire Pettit (2006): Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), London: The Institute ofEnvironmental Management and Assessment.2. Ron Bisset (1996): Environmental Impact Assessment: Issues, Trends and Practice;United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).3. Industry & Environment Unit, Centre for Science & Environment(2006): Introduction toEnvironment Impact Assessment.4. Innovation Report by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) on The IndianInnovation Awards, 2005.5. Aruna Murthy, Himansu Sekhar Patra (2005): ENVIRONMENT IMPACTASSESSMENT PROCESS IN INDIA AND THE DRAWBACKS, Bhubaneshwar:Vasundhara.6. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA) (2009), London: InternationalInstitute for Environment and Development (IIED)