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EIA: Why is Environment Impact Assessment so important?

by DrPrem Jagyasi
Environment Impact Assessment

What is EIA?

EIA is the assessment of the negative or in some cases even the positive impact that a large scale construction project has on the environment. It includes the assessment of the environmental and socio-economical effects that the project is causing. It is necessary for every big project to evaluate its EIA in order to foresee and avoid any negative effect that it might cause in future.

How is it evaluated? 

A large body of scientists, government officials, citizens and project managers are required for the evaluation of the EIA. Here are some key points that are taken in consideration during its evaluation:

  1. Evaluating Baseline

Construction site excavator

Baseline is the base point with respect to which the EIA is measured. It is established by evaluating the existing environmental and socio-economical conditions of the area where the construction is proposed. It also includes an outline of possible negative effects that the construction of project is most likely to have.

  1. Evaluating Uncertainties

The EIA can never be completely accurate. There is always room for an error. The extent of the error depends upon the predictability of the external conditions and the extent up to which they can be measured. Along with the assessment of the conditions the error in the assessment is also evaluated.

  1. Evaluating Negative Impact

There are some negative effects that are unavoidable but there are others that can be avoided or minimized. Both types of negative effects are examined while evaluating the EIA.

  1. Evaluating Positive Impact

The positive impact that the project is having is also evaluated. It might include effects like generation of employment, welfare of the society etc.

  1. Possible Alternatives

Environment Impact Assessment

There are always alternatives that can minimize the existing negative impact of the project. Both the availability and feasibility of all such alternatives is evaluated.

  1. Exceptions

The projects involving defence operations or confidential research are usually exempt from EIA.

Factors which determine EIA

The following factors have a high value in determination of the EIA:

  1. Effect on Environmental conditions: If the project is affecting the air quality or the water quality of the region
  2. Effect on heritage sites: Whether there is any heritage site in vicinity of the project that is either damaged or likely to be damaged by the project.
  3. Effect on lives of people: If there is large scale displacement of people or if their lives are affected in any other way.
  4. Opinion of the people about the project: If there is group of people or a community that is opposed to the project.
  5. Effect on flora and fauna of the surrounding region: If the project poses any threat to the flora and fauna surrounding the region. The matter becomes crucial when endangered or vulnerable species are involved.

Importance of EIA

planting tree

EIA is required if any federal action is to be taken against a firm. On the basis of EIA any firm can be stopped from carrying out a project that has a possible negative impact. And the best thing about it is that the opinion of the people affected by the project has a great value in EIA. It can rescue people from the ill effects of crony capitalism.

EIA is also of great help while settling environmental issues or issues concerning the welfare of the people. For example: If the project involves large scale deforestation then the firm can compensate for it by doing afforestation in the surrounding regions. And if the project involves displacement of people then compensation can be made in the form of money or new accommodations.

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