India is one of the biggest countries in this world and the mega biodiversity
region. The EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) was implemented to protect the
environment. The EIA was implemented to prevent the environment. According to
the EIA 2006, if any person thought that the factory in their area pollutes the
environment. Then, he or she can approach the court to claim that the factory
should be closed. But the EIA 2020 has changed this situation.
According to the EIA 2020, the people cannot approach the court even though the factory in that
area pollutes the environment, only the pollution control board can make a claim
in the court. This makes people raise their eyebrow. This is a democratic
country, every people can have a right to raise their voice against the
In this paper, I have governed the evolution of EIA i.e., how EIA is
implemented in India and the objectives of EIA and also the methods to carry out
the EIA. There are four types of EIA and I have governed all the four types and
clearly explained about it. The first EIA was implemented in 1994 and then the
next one in 2006 and then the next one in 2020. I have analysed the pros and
cons of these laws and well explained them. I have also explained the
objectives, salient features and the screening of the EIAs. Hence, this paper
helps the readers to learn about EIA.
UNEP defined the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool to understand
the social, economic and environmental impacts of a project prior to
decision-making. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is a step by step process
of evaluation, identification, management and monitoring of the potential
impacts of proposed projects on the environment of the local areas. Environment
Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process which sets a legal framework for regulating
It prevents the industrial/
infrastructure projects from being approved if they are unfavourable to the
environment. In simple terms it means the EIA is a planning tool for decision
making regarding the starting of a proposed project based on the measured
environment and social impact of the proposed activities. EIA gives an
opportunity to minimize proposed environment damages.
The main important purpose
of EIA is to give information regarding the impact of the project on cultural,
environmental, social, ecological and economic components of the project area to
the decision-makers for decision making and policy transformation. EIA works on
the principle of sustainable development to ensure nil or minimum environmental
degradation due to the proposed project and it also takes into account the short
term, medium-term and long term effects on the ecology, demography and
environment of the local area.
The 20th century has been regarding the century of overall growth and
The EIA is formulated to face against the following challenges
- Environmental safety
- Agriculture production
- Increased pollution due to anthropogenic activities
- Environmental destruction and ecological imbalance
- Rapidly increase population
- Sustainable development
- Increase industrialization and urbanization
These are all the problems and the main impact on the 20th century. So the EIA
has faced the challenges.
Evolution of EIA:
Primarily the EIA was introduced in the USA in the early 1970s
and with the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
1969. And the other developed countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
These countries followed the footsteps of the USA and started the EIA. And the
further strength and the efforts of the World Bank have adopted EIA in 1989. The
main strength of EIA comes from the Rio Earth Summit 1992. The Rio of the three
documents played a vital role in the consolidation of EIA. These are agenda 21,
article 14 and principle 17.
- Agenda 21 of chapter 8 is titled integrating environment and development
- Article 14 is titled impact assessment and minimizing the adverse impact
of the convention on biological diversity.
- The principle 17 of the Rio declaration on development and environment
“environmental impact assessment, as a national thing, shall be undertaken
for the proposed activity that is likely to have a significant adverse
impact on the subject of the decision of the competent national authority
and the environment”.
In Environmental Impact Assessment, the India experience began 20
years back. The planning commission asked the department of science and
technology to examine the river-valley projects from an environmental angle and
it started from 1976 to 1977. Till 1994, the environmental clearance from the
central government was a lack of legislative support and administrative
decision. In the year of 1994, 27 January, the union ministry of environment and
forests, under the environment protection act 1986, promulgated the EIA making
the environmental clearance mandatory for modernization of activities for
setting up the new projects list on schedule 1 of the notification.
Objectives of EIA:
Some basic objectives of EIA are:
- Identify social, economic and political environmental impacts of
- Considering the environmental factors of the decision-making process of
- To promote sustainable development through environmental management
plans by either mitigation measures or alternatives.
- Public participation in the decision making of the establishing of
- To take steps at initial stages to minimize adverse environmental
Methods to carry out EIA:Some of the methods available to carry out EIAs can be divided into the industry
and general specific assessment methods as described below:
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) this method used to measure and
identify the impact of industrial products on the environment, and LCA assesses
the environmental impacts which are associated with all the stages of the
product life from raw material extraction to its final recycling or disposal.
The impact assessment objectives of LCAs take into consideration environmental
- Evaluate the environmental impacts associated with identified releases
- Making an inventory of inputs in terms of energy, raw materials and
natural resources and the release of pollutants in the environment
- The interpreting results to help to make a decision
Types of EIA:The EIA has been clarified into four types, these are:
- Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
The strategic environmental assessment is the analysis of environmental effects
of plans, programs and developmental policies, and the purpose of SEA is to
assist in sound environmental decision making by improvement over the
environmental impact assessment.
- Regional EIA
EIA in the context is focused on regional planning. It integrates the economic
and environmental concerns of particular religions due to its development
- Sectoral EIA
It refers to EIA in specific sectors like airports, townships, thermal power,
mining, nuclear power plants etc. It helps to address the specific environmental
problems encountered in implementing and planning sectoral development projects.
- Project level EIA:
It refers to the environmental impacts of developmental activity
in isolation. It specifically targets only one development activity and does not
effectively integrate the cumulative efforts of development in the region.
Environmental impact assessment 1994:
In India, the Environment Impact
Assessment was started in 1976-77. To examine the river valley project from an
environmental angle the environmental impact assessment was adopted from the
U.S. Until 1994, getting environment clearance from the Central Government is an
administrative one. On Jan 27, 1994, the union ministry of environment and
forests under the environmental (protection) act 1986 officially announced the
Environmental Clearance (EC) is a mandatory one for expansion or modernization
of any project listed in schedule 1of the notification.
clearance process consists of four stages. They are screening stage, scoping
stage, public consultation and appraisal stage. The EIA 1994 notification
required prior environmental clearance certificate for 32 categories and the
Environmental clearance was granted based on investment criteria (it was
originally 50 crores and it is up to 100 crores) except for mining projects.
ministry of environment, forests and climate change have the power to notify the
Environmental Impact Assessment notification under the Environmental
(Protection) Act 1986. Under section 3 of the Environmental Protection Act
(EPA)1986, the Central Government takes all necessary measures and actions to
protect and improve the quality of the environment and also prevent and control
To achieve this objective, the Central Government can
abrogate the projects which bring impact to an environment and local population.
The objective of the notification was to develop the industrialization process
after considering the social and environmental impact from the project. The
notification made it clear that all the projects under schedule 1 of the
notification which needs environmental clearance and also stated the projects
which have been exempted from environmental clearance and public hearing.
amendment of 1994 notification in 1997 clearly stated that public hearing is
mandatory for environmental clearance and public hearing should be conducted by
state pollution control boards before the projects were sent to the ministry of
environment, forests and climate change for obtaining environmental clearance.
The notification also made provision for constituting an expert committee for EIA as per guidelines of schedule 3.
The expert committee was officially called
the Impact Assessment Agency (IAA). The experts of impact assessment agency
review the documents and then submit them to the ministry of environment and
forests for environmental clearance. The experts in the committee may reject the
project due to insufficient data; it is made within thirty days from the date of
submission of the proposal.
The proponent may reapply the project if it was
rejected due to lack of data. There are several changes made in the original
notification 1994. The EIA notification 1994 was amended 12 times within the 11
years. Most of the amendments diluted the environmental clearance process and
made it effective and strong. The environmental clearance for developmental
projects by submitting the prescribed application form mentioned in schedule 2
Sub-Para 1(a) of Para 2 of environmental impact assessment 1994 from the
ministry of environment and forests.
The environmental impact assessment 1994 comprises of several elements which includes:
- The Central Government is the clearance authority.
- Screening is based on capital investment and capacity
- There is no provision of consultation of scoping and scoping is not
- There is no provision for the terms of reference for EIA
- The separate site clearance process is essential before EIA
- Before the public hearing, EIA studies should be completed.
- No provision for the dissemination of draft EIA report
- Local persons, environmental groups are participating in public
- No objection certificate from SPCB is the mandatory one
- Not availability of final EIS to public
- Final EIS is appraised by EAC and MEF
- There is no time limit for each stage of EIA.
The environmental clearance
granted by the Central Government shall be valid for five years for commencement
of the project. Until the clearance certificate is obtained, no construction
work or preliminary work should be started. If there are no comments from the
IAA within the timeline, the project would be approved by project authorities.
Constraints in the EIA notification in 1994:
- No streamlined or standardized procedure
- No predictable or fixed schedule of appraisal meetings
- The requirement of unnecessary documents and details with an application
- Complex methods of screening with multiple categorizations
- EIA studies are of poor quality.
- The highly centralized system of clearance
- The cumbersome and long process leading to delays at different stages
- Technical issues at the time of various stages of appraisal
Environment impact assessment in 2006:
On September 14, 2006, the Ministry of Environment and Forest
(MoEF) introduced the EIA notification of 2006. The objective of EIA
notification 2006 was to address the limitation of the EIA notification 1994. So
the notification process started in 2005. In these drafting, notification was
placed on the MoEF website comments and nearly one year was sought from the
public. In these comments, the response from organizations and several groups
The environment management capacity building technical assistance
project of the World Bank, the central government for re-forming implementation
and investment approvals procedures and not for EIA was set up by the
Govindarajan Committee. The main important purpose of the committee was to
develop strategies for direct attract for foreign investment into the country.
This committee observed the environment clearance process as one of the major
hurdles in an investment project. This committee recommends that to attract
investment in the different sectors, hurdles related to the clearance process
need to be eased.
Objectives and salient features of EIA notification 2006:
The objective of EIA notification 2006 is to remove the constraints of the EIA
It was published with some following objectives:
- To incorporate the necessary environment safeguards at the planning
- To involve stakeholders in the public consultation process.
- To formulate a decentralized, transparent and efficient regulatory
The salient features of the EIA notification 2006
- More number of projects within the purview of the environment clearance
- No categorization of projects based on investment
- Capacity or size of the project determines whether it is cleared by the
state or central government.
- Attempt to decentralize power to the state government
- Provision to create an expert panel, the environment appraisal
committees at the state level.
- Introduction about scoping, which was missing in the earlier
- Introduction of the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the projects was
decided by the expert committees
- Powers of the expert committees to visit the site, meet experts to
decide the ToR and hold a public consultation.
- The process of consultation has been divided into the public hearing for
local people and submission in writing from other interested parties.
- Clear mention of the appraisal process
- Reduction in time required for the entire environment clearance process.
Screening, scoping and appraisal committees:
The same Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) at the SEACs hereinafter referred to
as the (SEAC) and (EAC) at the union or the state territory level shall scope,
screen and appraise activities or projects. SEAC’s and EAC shall meet at least
once every month.
Environment Impact Assessment 2020:
In this year, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate
Change (MoEF & CC) amended the EIA 2006, to make the EIA process more
transparent and expedient
But the new 2020 draft of EIA has been widely criticised for its
problematic changes in rules. The 2020 draft of EIA allows post facto clearance.
It means any project could carry out their operations ever without environment
If a project is categorized as Strategic
then no information related to
such project shall be placed in the public domain. Projects concerning national defence
and security are naturally categorized as Strategic
. In the new EIA
draft, there is a list of other projects exempted from assessment and considered
- All inland waterways and national highway projects.
- Building construction projects for an area up to 1, 50,000 sqm.
- The projects about the roads and pipelines in border areas.
Under existing EIA 2006 norms, the above projects in the list should be
screened by Expert Approval Committees. But in EIA 2020 norms it is placed under
New EIA allows only the Government representatives or the project
proponent to report against any violations and the citizens cannot complain
against such violations.
The draft cuts down the notice period for public consultation from the current
30 days to 20 days. This questions the transparency and credibility of the
Another change is, the project proponents are asked to submit
only one annual report on compliance with conditions. But according to EIA 2006
norms, they have to submit two annual reports.
The EIA 2020 draft added a provision to regulate Coastal Regulatory Zone
(CRZ) and Island Coastal Regulatory Zone (ICRZ) properly. This provision is seen
as a positive amendment since it will check the illegal tracking and smuggling.
The draft diluted the regulations over industrial and development
practices which may cause negative impacts on the environment.
What is the Aarhus Convention?
The Aarhus Convention, adopted by the United Nation Economic Commission
for Europe (UNECE) on 25th June 1998, establishes the number of rights of the
public in matters of the environment. They are as follows:
- Every men and women have the right to access environmental information.
- The public has the right to participation in environmental decision
- The right to access to justice to challenge the public decision with
respect to the above-mentioned rights
Aarhus convention specifies that sustainable development can be achieved
only when the involvement of stakeholders, government accountability and the
environmental protections are interconnected and the interaction between public
and public representatives should take place in a democratic context. This shows
that the public domain should be given a major role in decision making in
matters of environmental protection. But the newly drafted EIA 2020 exempts the
public domain in many important matters.
The importance of EIA and its stringent impositions can be realised through
recent incidents such as the LG polymer plant in Visakhapatnam and the blow and
fire at the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Assam. The provisions of EIA should
contain strict rules and restrictions to safeguard the environment and to
prevent any further disaster to take place in the future.
It is the duty of the government to protect the people and also to control the
environment so as not to be polluted. The EIA 2020 is opposed to these and it is
not good for our country. Many people have raised their voices against the EIA
2020 that it should not be implemented. Many NGOs have filed a suit against the
EIA 2020 in the court and it is still pending.
We shall hope that we will get
the good news in that case. It was suggested that the government should ask the
opinion of the people about the EIA 2020 and to decide according to the opinion
of the people. It was also suggested that the government should correct the EIA
2020, that every citizen can approach the court against the factory if the
factory pollutes the environment. Hence, we can make a good environment for
- B. Sandeep Harish,
III year of B.A.,LL.B.,
The Central Law College,
E-mail: [email protected], Ph no: 8110067837
- M.Vanmathi, III year of B.A.,LL.B., The Central Law College, Salem
E-mail: [email protected], Ph no: 6383081986