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What is Environmental Impact Assessment? Why EIA is done? Explain the same in the following context: - Screening, Scoping, Prediction, and Reporting.
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  • Inorder to predict environmental impacts of any development activity and to provide an opportunity to minimize the negative impacts and enhance positive impacts, the environmental impact assessment procedure was developed in 1970.

  • EIA is an activity designed to identify and predict the impact on the biogeophysical environment and on mans health and well-being of legislative proposals, policies, programs, project and operational procedure and to inspect and communicate information about impacts.

  • An EIA may be defined as a formed process to predict the environmental consequences of human development activities and to plan appropriate measure to eliminate or reduce adverse effects and to argument positive effects.

  • The EIA process makes sure that environmental issues are raised when a project or plan is first discussed and that all concerns are addressed as a project, gains momentum through the implementation.

  • The various steps involved are:

Screening:

  • Screening is the solution to the problem of deciding which project required EIA. There are various types of project based on requirements of EIA compulsory.

  • The projects are Nuclear and thermal power stations, reservoirs, major roads, mines, cement plants etc.

  • Not required: Emergency works, project carried out for the purpose of national security, small project.

Scoping:

  • Following points come under scoping: which impacts to be considered, within what area, for what reason and for what time duration.

  • The scoping is also influenced by aspects such as:- the relevant environmental regulations, the base line environment, public opinions, the project characteristics like size and type of project, environmental parameters affected and life of project.

Prediction of impacts:

  • To properly predict and assess the impact of a proposed action, it is first necessary to describe the future environmental setting in the area without the project.

  • Various techniques are available for projecting current condition into the future bond on historical trend, less quantitative approaches are also available for predicting alternative future bond on management.

  • Prediction and assessment of the impact of each alternative on physical, chemical, biological, cultural and socio-economic environment are required.

Preparation of EIS report:

  • The last step in the environmental assessment process involves the preparation of a draft EIS (Environment Impact Statement), the subjective of thus drafts statement is to review and comment by others and the preparation of final EIS and subsequent forming of this final statement with the council on environmental quality.
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Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.

Why EIA is done?

  • Before making a decision, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is used to analyse the project's environmental, social, and economic implications.
  • Its goal is to predict environmental impacts early in the project planning and design process, develop strategies to mitigate negative effects, tailor projects to the local environment, and provide the predictions and options to decision-makers.
  • EIA can provide both environmental and economic benefits, such as reduced project implementation and design costs and time, avoided treatment/clean-up expenses, and the effects of laws and regulations.

How EIA Differs from Environmental Audit? Environmental impact assessment is an anticipatory tool, that is, it takes place before an action is carried out (ex ante). Environmental auditing is carried out when a development is already in place, and is used to check on existing practices, assessing the environmental effects of current activities.

Following are the stages for EIA:

  • Screening: to determine which projects or developments require a full or partial impact assessment study;

  • 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;

  • Prediction: 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;

  • Reporting the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or EIA report, including an environmental management plan (EMP), and a non-technical summary for the general audience. Review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): based on the terms of reference (scoping) and public (including authority) participation. Decision-making: Decision making on whether to approve the project or not, and under what conditions; and

  • 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.

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