The 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. UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as “a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making.”

The aim is to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers. Although legislation and practice vary around the world, the fundamental components of an EIA would necessarily involve the following stages:

Assessment and evaluation of impacts and development of
Reporting the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or EIA report
Review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
Monitoring, compliance, enforcement and environmental auditing

A beginning in this direction was made in our country with the impact assessment of river valley projects in 1978-79 and the scope has subsequently been enhanced to cover other developmental sectors such as industries, thermal power projects, mining schemes etc. To facilitate collection of environmental data and preparation of management plans, guidelines have been evolved and circulated to the concerned Central and State Government Departments. EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental (Protection Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs.50 crores and above.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process of examining the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project – from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage, through consultation and preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), evaluation of the EIAR by a competent authority, the subsequent decision as to whether the project should be permitted to proceed, encompassing public response to that decision.

Write up by – Rhea Gill, Avineet Singh Chawla