Environmental Impact Assessment falls under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.EIA covers projects such as Mining of Coal/Other Minerals,Infrastructure/Development,Thermal,Nuclear and Hydro Power Projects including Real Estate too.
What is the main aim of EIA?
1.The immediate aim of EIA is to inform the process of decision making by identifying the potentially significant environmental effects and risks of development proposals/infrastructural activities.
2.Environment Impact Assessment(EIA) is defined as a process of identifying the likely consequences for the bio-geophysical environment and for man’s over all interest with respect to implementation of particular developmental activities and also to find out alternatives for developmental proposal.
3.EIA can have both spatial and temporal components and can be described as a change in an environmental parameter,over a specific period.
4.If we take a look at Environmental Impact Assessment 2020 draft,according to research,it is quite problematic.It prevents the proposed activity/project from being approved without proper oversight or taking adverse consequences into account.It compares various alternatives for project and identifies the one which represents the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits.
5.EIA is a formal process in many countries and is currently practiced in more than 100 countries.India notified it’s first EIA norms in 1994.
6.A new draft was introduces in early 2020,but has been widely criticised for its problematic changes in rules.
7.The 2020 EIA draft allow Post-Facto Clearance,it means any project that comes up without environment safeguards or clearances could carry out their operations.
8.In the new EIA draft,there is a list of projects exempted from the assessment.These include any project the government categorises as “strategic”.
9.The main disadvantages of being project declared as strategic is that there is no information related to such projects shall be placed in a public domain.
10.All inland waterway and national highway projects have also been excluded from public consultation.There is a provision that exempts construction projects of up to 150,000 sq.m from EIA and public consultation.
11.According to new draft,violations can only be reported by a government representative or the project proponent and not citizens.
12.Any environmental impact assessment is presented for a public hearing.It gives the public a chance to understand the project and its whole process.
13.Inadequate time for public consultation questions the transparency and credibility of the assessment process.New EIA draft cuts down 30 days of public consultation to 20 days.
Experts say most of the provisions in the new draft of EIA proves to be a regressive departure from the earlier version.Recent incidents such as gas leak the LG Polymer Plant in Vishakhapatnam and the blowout and fire at the Oil India Limited in Assam are some of the examples that point out the importance of EIA in our country.
This issue is one which is neither political nor religious,two things which have already been destroyed by the people in power.It is purely fundamental.It concerns the air we breathe,the land we live on and the water we drink.As we have battling with the global pandemic from the beginning of 2020,it is important that we should also take active decisions for the same scenarios.