Screening is done to see whether a project requires environmental clearance as per the statutory notifications. At this stage, the project proponent decides the type of project and also about requirement of Environmental Clearance. If required, the proponent may consult IAA.
3. Scoping and Consideration of Alternatives:
Scoping is a process of detailing the terms of reference of EIA. It has to be done by the consultant in consultation with the project proponent and guidance, if need be, from Impact Assessment Agency. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has published guidelines for different sectors, which outlines the significant issues to be addressed in the EIA studies.
Quantifiable impacts are to be assessed on the basis of magnitude, prevalence, frequency and duration and non-quantifiable impacts (such as aesthetic or recreational value), significance is commonly determined through the socio-economic criteria.
After the areas, where the project could have significant impact, are identified, the baseline status of these should be monitored and then the likely changes in these on account of the construction and operation of the proposed project should be predicted.
4. Base Line Data Collection:
Base line data describes the existing environmental status of the identified study area. The site-specific primary data should be monitored for the identified parameters and supplemented by secondary data if available.
5. Impact Prediction and Assessment of Alternatives:
Impact prediction is a way of mapping the environmental consequences of the significant aspects of the project and its alternatives. For every project, possible alternatives should be identified and environmental attributes compared.
Alternatives should cover both project location and process technologies. Alternatives should then be ranked for selection of the best environmental optimum economic benefits to the community at large.
Once alternatives have been reviewed, a mitigation plan should be drawn up for the selected option and is supplemented with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to guide the proponent towards environmental improvements. The EMP is a crucial input to monitoring the clearance conditions and therefore details of monitoring should be included in the EMP.
6. EIA Report:
An EIA report should provide clear information to the decision-maker on the different environmental scenarios without the project, with the project and with project alternatives. The proponent prepares detailed Project report and provides information in logical and transparent manner. The IAA examines if procedures have been followed as per MoEF notifications.
7. Public Hearing:
After the completion of EIA report the law requires that the public must be informed and consulted on a proposed development after the completion of EIA report. The State Pollution Control Boards will conduct the public hearing before the proposals are sent to MOEF for obtaining environmental clearance.
Any one likely to be affected by the proposed project is entitled to have access to the Executive Summary of the EIA. The affected persons may include: (a) Bonafide local residents; (b) Local associations; (c) Environmental groups: active in the area; (d) Any other person located at the project site/sites of displacement. They are to be given an opportunity to make oral/written suggestions to the State Pollution Control Board as per Schedule IV.
Decision-making process involve consultation between the project proponent (assisted by a consultant) and the impact assessment authority (assisted by an expert group if necessary). The decision on environmental clearance is arrived at through a number of steps including evaluation of EIA and EMP.
9. Monitoring the Clearance Conditions:
Monitoring has to be done during both construction and operation phases of a project. It is done not just to ensure that the commitments made are complied with but also to observe whether the predictions made in the EIA reports are correct or not.
Where the impacts exceed the predicted levels, corrective action should be taken. Monitoring also enables the regulatory agency to review the validity of predictions and the conditions of implementation of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
The Project Proponent, IAA and Pollution Control Boards should monitor the implementation of conditions. The proponent is required to file once in six months a report demonstrating the compliance to IAA.
Above figure shows a general flow diagram of the EIA process, how EIA fits with parallel technical and economic studies and the role of public participation. In some cases, the process may be rapid and some steps in the EIA procedure may be omitted, for example small-scale irrigation schemes.