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Approach:

  1. Introduction – relevance of EIA.
  2. Role of EIA in minimizing the adverse impacts.
  3. Highlight the limitations of EIA in current scenario.
  4. Conclusion

Large infrastructure projects requires large resources and have disturbing impact on local population, biodiversity, forests, local climate. This makes an inquiry into such projects from the paradigm of sustainable development a rewarding exercise. EIA is one such tool which looks into physical, biological and social parameters and indicates what the likely impacts could be if the project is implemented.

EIA role in minimizing adverse impacts:

  • The EIA reports give clear information on the different environmental scenarios which supports decision makers in objective analysis about going ahead with project.
  • Site selection: If project is likely to damage a fragile area an alternate less sensitive area must be selected.
  • Public participation : The EIA reports provide holistic view to local inhabitants about the project. It enables the effective participation of people in public hearings.
  • EIA also delineates mitigation measures to be adopted by project managing agency to reduce the adverse impact on environment and local population.

Though it is in existence for more than two decades, appraisal of the EIA system reveals various drawbacks of it which is undermining its effectiveness in achieving sustainable development.

Limitations of EIA in India:

  • Conflict of Interest: Experience shows that a large number of EIAs are inadequately researched and frequently biased as they are funded by the proposer of the project.
  • EIAs generally deal inadequately with issues such as preservation of biodiversity and social issues that may arise as well as the issue of inadequate trained EIA professionals.
  • The consideration of alternatives sites in India is more or less absent.
  • In deciding the scope of EIA, consultation with public is optional and depends on the discretion of the expert committee and most of the reports are in English causing a language barrier.
  • No representation of NGO in review agency i.e. IAA, which is a violation of the EIA notification.

Reforms required in EIA:

  • Active involvement of all participants including competent authority, government agencies and affected people at early stages of the EIA.
  • Integrated approach including aspects like social and health impacts needs to be taken into account.
  • Proper consideration of alternatives in EIA should be explored.
  • EIA reports should be in local language.
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