Development projects in the past were undertaken without any consideration to their environmental consequences. As a result the whole environment got polluted and degraded.
In view of the colossal damage to the environment, governments and public are now concerned about the environmental impacts of developmental activities. So, to assess the environmental impacts, the mechanism of EIA was introduced.
EIA is a tool to anticipate the likely environmental impacts that may arise out of the proposed developmental activities and suggest mitigation measures and strategies.
EIA was introduced in India in 1978, with respect to river valley projects. Later the EIA legislation was enhanced to include other developmental sections since 1941.
EIA comes under Notification on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of developmental projects 1994 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Besides EIA, the Government of India under Environment (Protection) Act 1986 issued a number of other notifications, which are related to environmental impact assessment.
EIA is now mandatory for 30 categories of projects, and these projects get Environmental Clearance (EC) only after the EIA requirements are fulfilled.
Environmental clearance or the ‘go ahead’ signal is granted by the Impact Assessment Agency in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Benefits of EIA
EIA provides a cost effective method to eliminate or minimize the adverse impact of developmental projects.
EIA enables the decision makers to analyses the effect of developmental activities on the environment well before the developmental project is implemented.
EIA encourages the adaptation of mitigation strategies in the developmental plan.
EIA makes sure that the developmental plan is environmentally sound and within limits of the capacity of assimilation and regeneration of the ecosystem.
EIA links environment with development. The goal is to ensure environmentally safe and sustainable development.