Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in India
The Environmental Impact Assessment (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 Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) uses Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006 as a major tool for minimizing the adverse impact of rapid industrialization on environment and for reversing those trends which may lead to climate change in long run.
EIA 2006 was issued on 14th September 2006, in supersession of EIA 1994, except in respect of things done or omitted to be done before such supersession. The Notification is issued under relevant provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
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, requiring prior Environmental Clearance (EC) respectively from MoEF or the concerned State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs). Where state level authorities have not been constituted, the clearance would be provided by the MoEF. Further, the notification provides for screening (determining whether or not the project or activity requires further environmental studies for preparation of EIA), scoping (determining the detailed and comprehensive Terms of Reference (TOR), addressing all relevant environmental concerns /questions for the preparation of an EIA Report), public consultation (ascertaining concerns of affected persons) and appraisal of project proposals (based on the public consultations and final EIA report).
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.
The amendments to EIA Notification of 1st December 2009 exempts environmental clearance process the biomass based power plants up to 15 MW, power plants based on non hazardous municipal solid waste and power plants based on waste heat recovery boilers without using auxiliary fuel.