Environmental conservation is becoming increasingly important given the current scenario of booming industries in India. Businesses more than ever before, are expected to behave in a sustainable manner through improved environmental assessment and management. A sustainable business results in value creation for the company, its employees, customers, shareholders and the society as a whole. Therefore, before undertaking any project or major activity, it is important for you to undergo Environmental Impact Assessment.
What is EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)?
UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making. It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers. This is an important management tool for ensuring optimum use of natural resources for sustainable development.
Why is EIA important for businesses?
The EIA is a comprehensive assessment of resource use, including energy, water, air, land, and ecological impacts. EIA ensures that a business will not harm the environment on a short term or long term basis. It came into existence in India in 1978-79 with the impact assessment of river valley projects. Since then, the scope has subsequently been enhanced to cover other developmental sectors such as industries, thermal power projects, mining schemes etc. For enabling collection of environmental data and preparation of management plans, guidelines have been evolved and circulated to the concerned Central and State Government Departments. EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 for 30 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above. By using EIA both environmental and economic benefits can be achieved, such as reduced cost and time of project implementation and design, avoided treatment/clean-up costs and impacts of laws and regulations.
Who provides EIA clearance?
Projects are classified under two categories ‘A’ & ‘B’ as per the latest Environment Impact Notification. Category A projects (including expansion and modernization of existing projects) require clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), while category B requires clearance from State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), constituted by Government of India.
When is EIA clearance required?
Developers are required to obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clearance from Government of India before constructing projects. The assessment shall be completed within 90 days from receipt of documents and data from the project authorities and completion of public hearing and decision conveyed within 30 days thereafter.
Once granted, the environmental clearance is valid for a period of five years. The regulatory authority concerned may extend this validity period by a maximum period of five years provided an application is made to the regulatory authority by the applicant within the validity period.
How is EIA clearance obtained?
The applicant must submit the following documents to the Govt:
1. Form 1 and supplementary Form 1A
2. An application
3. A copy of the conceptual plan
4. Environmental Appraisal questionnaire developed by MOEF.
5. Environment Impact Assessment Report.
6. Environment Management Plan and disaster Management plan
7. Details of public Hearing as in schedule IV of the notification (where ever necessary)
8. Rehabilitation plans (where ever necessary)
9. Forest clearance certificate (where ever necessary)
10. NOC from the state pollution control board (SPCB)
Stages of Environmental Impact Assessment:
The fundamental components of EIA involve the following stages:
a. Screening to determine which projects or developments require a full or partial impact assessment study.
b. Scoping to identify which potential impacts are relevant to assess (based on legislative requirements, international conventions, expert knowledge and public involvement), to identify alternative solutions that avoid, mitigate or compensate adverse impacts on biodiversity (including the option of not proceeding with the development, finding alternative designs or sites which avoid the impacts, incorporating safeguards in the design of the project, or providing compensation for adverse impacts), and finally to derive terms of reference for the impact assessment.
c. Assessment and evaluation of impacts and development of alternatives, to predict and identify the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, including the detailed elaboration of alternatives.
d. Reporting the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or EIA report, including an environmental management plan (EMP), and a non-technical summary for the general audience.
e. Review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), based on the terms of reference (scoping) and public (including authority) participation.
f. Decision-making on whether to approve the project or not, and under what conditions.
g. Monitoring, compliance, enforcement and environmental auditing. Monitor whether the predicted impacts and proposed mitigation measures occur as defined in the EMP. Verify the compliance of proponent with the EMP, to ensure that unpredicted impacts or failed mitigation measures are identified and addressed in a timely fashion.
As business leaders, it is important for you to understand global sustainability challenges and how they affect your businesses. Going green is no more an option but it has become a strong business case now. Environmental impact assessment demonstrates your commitment to a strong business growth, taking care of the sustainability issues. At PDV Group, we offer you guidance and assistance with the process of Environmental Impact Assessment. Our teams enable your business to contribute to the local development while minimizing the impact on the environment. Contact our experienced teams today to find out how. For more details, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on our helpline 9911661818.