Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 Notification, How it will Harm India

Major power plant disasters in India happened in plant with no Environment Impact Assessment
Major power plant disasters in India happened in plant with no Environment Impact Assessment

The draft was published by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of India on 23rd March, making some major changes in the guidelines. The Environment Protection Act was first implemented by the Government of India in the year 1986, which included EIA.

What is EIA and Why is it Important?

Environment Impact Assessment in basic language refers to a process of checking the impact of a project or development on the environment, taking into consideration other important aspects such as socio-economic, cultural, and human health impacts.

The main aim of EIA is to identify and predict the impact of projects, evaluate the effects, and promote sustainable ways of development. Every project suggested by the government, any real estate project, infrastructure projects, power plants, construction of roads, highways, etc, everything has to undergo EIA.

Any project which has a lot of negative impacts is not given clearance, and amendments in the plans are asked to be made.

EIA Process In India

Initially, the project and the site for it is decided, which is followed by the EIA. A No Objection Certificate (NOC) is then filled and a Public Hearing is conducted. The locals and other residents of the states and country are asked their opinions about the judgment, whether a particular project should be permitted. This report is then sent to the Expert Appraisal Committee, which is a group of scientists who will do a further assessment. The committee decides how the negative impacts, if small, can be overcome. It also suggests compensations to the affected communities.

Project site selection-> NOC-> Public Hearing-> Expert Appraisal Committee Assessment-> Suggestions-> Permission or Rejection

Is Implementation Done Well?

There are tons of cases in India where the construction of plants was given a nod WITHOUT conducting a public hearing. A lot of times, the local communities are threatened not to go against the project. A cumulative effect of all these is seen in the numerous accidents that happen in power plants and elsewhere in India.

The Vizag Gas leak, a pretty recent disaster, the LG polymer Plant did not have environmental clearance. The gas leak killed 11 people and affected 1000 more locals. Check this link for more info.

The recent Oil Blast at Oil India Limited plant in Baghjan, the public hearing for the assessment was SKIPPED. 7000 people had to be evacuated while 2 died, and the plant is located near Dibru- Siakhowa National Park. The impact, I will let you imagine.

Read here the detailed story. Click here to read about this.

Hence there is no doubt about the fact that EIA is not implemented well in India. Also, MoEFCC released a new draft with changed guidelines, called EIA draft 2020.

Amendments in EIA

The new drafts say activities under the B2 category will be exempted from public hearings as well as approval form the appraisal committee, which means neither the local population nor the scientific community can share their concerns.