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Environmental Impact Assessment
In India, EIA was made mandatory in 1994 under the environmental protection Act of 1986 with the following four objectives:  
  1. Predict environmental impact of projects;  
  2. Find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts;
  3. Shape the projects to suit local environment;
  4. Present the predictions and options to the decision-makers.  

Till 1994, EIA clearance was the administrative requirement for big projects undertaken by the Government or public sector undertakings. The Notification mandates a public hearing and environment itself), with further review by a committee of experts in certain cases. According to Schedule II of the notification, the EIA is expected to cover at least the following matters:  

  1.  Description of the proposed activities;
  2.  Description of the base environmental and climatic conditions and potential affected environment including specific information necessary to identify and assess the environmental effect of the proposed activities   
  3. Analysis of the land use and land use change, waste generation, water consumption (and the existing balance), power consumption etc. along with the social and health impacts (in terms of number of people displayed etc)   
  4. Description of the practical activities as appropriate
  5. An assessment of the likely or potential environmental impacts of the proposed activity (like air pollution, noise generation) and the alternatives, including the direct or indirect, cumulative, short-term and long-term effects;   
  6. A risk assessment report and disaster management plan to mitigate adverse environmental impacts of proposed activity and assessment of those measures;   
  7. An indication of the likely area to be affected by the proposed activity or its alternatives; 
  8. A detailed environmental feasibility report of all the information provided.  

The EIA report - which is expected to include proposed measures to be undertaken by a proponent to mitigate or ameliorate the negative environment effects - shall be submitted to the agency for approval. If approved, an environmental agency statement and certificate of approval shall be issued by the agency. In a move, the MoEF also took a step in decentralizing the responsibilities of conducting EIA (notification date 10th April 1997, No. S.O. 319 E). Under the EIA, clearance for certain category of thermal plants lies with the state governments. The Ministry further amended the Notification in December 2000 for exempting defense related road construction projects in border areas from the purview of EIA Notification. The EIA Notification was further amended in November 2001 and production of bulk drugs based on genetically engineered organisms has been exempted from the purview of EIA Notification since this activity attracts the provisions of Hazardous and/or Genetically Modified Micro Organisms Rules, 1989. Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification has also been amended in April, 2001 permitting certain activities in CRZ-I areas such as (a) construction activities related to the projects of Department of Atomic Energy (b) laying of pipelines, conveying systems including transmission lines and (c) facilities that are essential for activities permissible under CRZ-I. Under this amended notification, exploration and extraction of oil and natural gas is also permitted between Low Tide Line (LTL) and High Tide Line (HTL) in areas, which are not ecologically sensitive. Facilities for receipt and storage of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and facilities for its re-gasification can also be permitted in CRZ areas not classified as CRZ-I (i) subject to implementation of certain safety regulations. A recent amendment to the EIA requirements that was notified on 13 June 2002 exempts pipeline projects from preparation of EIA reports.

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Legal Provision for Public Participation in India

A major amendment to EIA Notification was made in April 1997 for introduction of Public Hearing (PH) as a part of assessment procedure for ensuring participation of local people and stakeholders in various proposed development activities. Public hearings are called for in projects involving a large displacement of residents or severe environmental impacts. The decision to hold hearings has to be made within 30 days of receipt of the proposal. If the IAD (Impact Assessment Division) decides to hold hearings, it is required to provide notice in at least two newspapers at least 30 days prior to the hearing. Recent Amendment in the Public hearing notifications is that hearings are now mandatory for all projects to which the EIA notification applies. In support of this new requirement, the process includes provisions for public access to information. Project proponents are required to provide the SPCB with an executive summary of the project "containing the salient features of the project both in English and local languages". They must also provide copies of all application forms relating to the project that were submitted pursuant to other environmental approval processes and "any other document necessary for the Board to dispense with the application". Twenty copies of each of these documents must be provided to the SPCB. Public access to executive summaries is available at District Collectors' Offices, District Industry Centers, the office of the Zila Parishad or Commissioner of the municipal corporation/local body, and SPCB state and Regional offices. The hearing process also contains provisions for public notice. SPCBs are required to give notice in at least two newspapers widely circulated in the region around the project, mentioning the date, time and place of public hearings. Suggestions, views, comments and objections of the Public shall be invited within thirty days from the date of publication. Local residents, environmental groups and others located at the project site likely to be affected can participate in the hearings or submit oral or written briefs to the SPCB. The new hearing process also contains requirements regarding the composition of hearing panels. Panels also include a representative of the SPCB, the District Collector, a state government representative for the relevant sector under investigation, a representative of the central Ministry of the Environment and Forests, not more than three representatives of local bodies such as municipalities or panchayats, and not more than three senior citizens nominated by the District Collector. For time bound processing of proposals for public hearing submitted to various State Pollution Control Boards, the EIA Notification was amended in November, 2001 and a time limit of 60 days has been laid down for completion of public hearing.
   

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http://coe.mse.ac.in 2003-09. Madras School of Economics - Systems Department