A comparative analysis of EIA Draft, 2020 and IAA, 2019

August 04, 2021

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This article is written by Varchaswa Dubey from JECRC University, Jaipur. This article reflects the comparative analysis based on the research undertaken by the author. The article also aims at providing a better understanding of the EIA draft, 2020 and the IAA, 2019.


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is “a systematic and integrative process for considering possible impacts before a decision being taken on whether or not a proposal should be approved to proceed”. EIA estimates the impacts of the proposed projects on the environment. It also evaluates the different aspects of the proposed project concerning the environment and alternatives of the project which shall preserve the environment. 

Impact Assessment Act refers to the new set of rules and regulations in Canada which lays down the procedure, timelines, factors, compliance, and participation mechanisms of impact assessment. The act aims to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change. 

Origins of the drafts 

The history of environmental impact assessment can be traced back to the United States of America where the US passed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 intending to encourage productivity among humans and the environment and to prevent the factors which will cause damage to the environment, biosphere, health, and welfare of humans. 

In India, the roots of EIA are influenced by the National Environmental Policy Act, 1970, which most of the nations in the world have signed and adopted to preserve their environment. The EIA, 2020 is proposed to repeal and replace Environmental Impact Assessment, 2006 and make amendments to the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. In the case of Sterlite Industries Ltd. v. Union Of India (2013), the Supreme Court of India highlighted the grounds on which administrative actions could be challenged and emphasised the impacts of the acts on the environment. 

The roots of the Impact Assessment Act, 2019 can be traced back to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, which lays down the procedure, timelines, factors, compliance, and participation mechanisms of impact assessment. 

What is the EIA draft, 2020 

The EIA draft is the procedure falling under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 which ceases the industries and other projects from operating without proper site analysis where such a project is proposed to be established. The draft also aims at improving and preserving the quality of the environment. 

The procedure enshrined under EIA endeavours that every small or big project must go through a rigid process undertaken to allow the industries to operate without having any impact on the environment.

The projects falling within the scope of EIA are coal and minerals, infrastructure development, thermal, nuclear, real estate, hydropower, and other industrial projects. 

The EIA is a significant procedure for the evaluation of the impact on the environment caused by the proposed projects. In this process views of different people are taken into account before giving the authority to the projects to begin operating. 

Under the 2020 draft, according to the notification of the government of India, the draft is enacted to make the procedure of the EIA more transparent by the introduction of the digital system, in online mode. However, some environmentalists claim that such a draft will weaken the traditional EIA procedure. 

What is the environmental impact statement?

Environmental impact statement refers to the statement prepared when there is a proposal of an industry or infrastructure: 

What are the objectives of EIA, 2020 

The draft aims at: 

Critical analysis of the EIA, 2020

Such provisions are very likely to destroy innocent human lives, like the Visakhapatnam gas leak where an LG polymer plant has been operating without any environmental clearance, taking away the lives of 12 and affecting hundreds of others. The infamous Union Carbide Corporation v. Union Of India (1989) (Bhopal gas tragedy) which was responsible for more than 15,000 lives was also a result of poor environmental safeguards and improper machines.

In the case of Keystone Realtors Pvt. Ltd V. Shri Anil v. Tharthare & Ors. (2019), The Supreme Court of India held that the draft amendment was not adopted in subsequent amendments to the EIA Notification. It assists the officials in not just evaluating and mitigating the impacts but also in accessing the compliance of the obligations. 

What is IAA, 2019 

The Impact Assessment Agency is established to prepare and have a tool to assess the aspects of environmental projects and how they shall affect the health, social life, and economy of the country. The IAA bestows a procedure for evaluating the impacts of major projects which are being operated in Canada. 

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is the competent authority that is responsible for the working of the projects which are being carried out in Canada on their watch, and the agency directly reports to the Minister of Environment of Canada. 

What are the objectives of IAA, 2019 

What is the process of IAA, 2019 

Phase 1 – planning 

It is a stage of 180 days where the proposed project is introduced to the impact assessment procedure, and concerned people determine the issues and problems with the proposed project (if any). It also gives brief details about the proposed project and responses to issues that arise against the proposed project. 

Phase 2 – impact statement 

This stage stretches from 180 days to 3 years max and determines and evaluates the impacts of the proposed projects and a statement is prepared by the agency concerning the guidelines met by the proposed projects. 

Phase 3 – impact assessment 

It is a stage of 300 days max where the impacts of the proposed project are considered with the sustainability of the proposed project. Also, it considers the factors like rights of those who may get affected by the proposed project, knowledge, and culture, etc. 

Defined in Section 22(1) of the IAA, the factors which are considered in impact assessment are the purpose and need of the project, alternatives available for the project, knowledge provided to the indigenous people, to what extent the project shall be sustainable, change in the project caused by the environment, comments of public, etc. 

Phase 4 – decision making

It is a phase of 90 days where adverse effects, whether direct or incidental, which violate the rights of the public are determined by the environment minister or by the governor in council according to Section 60(1) and Section 62 of the IAA, 2019, and such evaluation must be in the best interest of the public, according to Section 63.

Phase 5 – post decision 

This stage objects to the accuracy of the impact assessment report laid down and verify the steps which shall be taken to make the assessment more effective. The decisions taken before this stage may be amended by the Minister of Environment, including to add or remove a condition present, according to Section 68(1) of the IAA, 2019.

Critical analysis of the IAA 

The IAA, 2019 has repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 which was also the main legislation concerning the protection of the environment in Canada region-wise. The drawbacks of IAA are: 

Comparative analysis of EIA, 2020 and IAA, 2019 

Objectives of EIA, 2020 and IAA, 2019

The EIA, 2020 was drafted with the objective of economic development in India, however, to achieve this, India has made a significant number of compromises since India has fallen to 168/180 in the Environmental Performance Index, 2020. Although the 2020 draft was enacted with the purpose of making the process more transparent, the draft was criticised because it ignores environmental protection, international laws, etc. 

The IAA, 2019, was drafted with the aim of inserting new legislation concerning environmental laws replacing the 2012 legislation. The 2019 legislation provides procedures, factors, etc. concerning environmental protection in Canada. Canada ranks 20 in the Environmental Performance Index, 2020. 

Classification of projects under EIA, 2020 and IAA, 2019

The EIA, 2020 categorizes the project through different phases like A, B1, and B2. This categorization is based on the type of project, the impact of the project on the environment, area required by the project, and the conditions, if any required to be applied in the project. 

The IAA, 2019 on the other hand, all the projects which are under the jurisdiction of the 2019 legislation come under the project list which describes all the physical activities that shall be a designated project and requires an impact assessment. The list contains all the physical activities which shall fall within the jurisdictions of the Minister of Environment. The projects under IAA are categorized into 5 different phases, i.e. planning, impact statement, impact assessment, decision making, and post-decision.

Community engagement under EIA, 2020 and IAA, 2019

The EIA, 2020, takes community engagement under consideration and a significant aspect under the EIA, 2020 is that it prepares an environmental impact statement before allowing industry to operate. A statement of issues that are raised by the public is also prepared in the local language or the official language of the state however the draft does not provide much scope for community engagement compared to the earlier draft. 

The IAA, 2019 on the other hand, in its Preamble highlights the importance of public participation in the impact assessment process, including the planning phase and it states that the public should have access to reasons concerning decisions related to impact assessment. The assessment under the planning phase is of 180 days, where public opinions are considered, where the public raises its issues concerning the proposed project. 

What is the legal framework concerning the right to the environment

The right to have a clean and healthy environment is one of the basic requirements of human rights since no human right can be enforced without a clean environment, and therefore it is vital on the part of the state to provide its citizens with a clean and healthy environment.  

The mainstream legislation regarding the right to a clean environment is the Stockholm Declaration, 1972, which states that – “Man is both creature and moulder of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth.” The Stockholm Declaration bestows a fundamental right to freedom, equality, and adequate conditions of life, in an environment that allows a lifestyle of dignity and well-being. It also places a responsibility on humans that only they are responsible for the protection and improvement of the environment for themselves and future generations. 

The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 also aims at international agreements among the states which shall promote the protection of the environment. The Rio declaration also states that humans are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature and places a responsibility on the state to only exploit its resources to an extent that its activities do not cause damage to the environment. 

The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 1966 also refers to the improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child also places a duty on the state to tackle disease and malnutrition, including primary health care, and make available adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking water, considering the risks of environmental pollution. 

The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 states that special measures must be taken to safeguard the persons, institutions, property, labour, culture, and environment of the concerned people. 


By analyzing both the policies it can be determined that both the policies lack one or another factor which results in poor environmental conditions in the jurisdictions of both policies. Although the EIA is a broader and widely accepted policy in nature, it still lacks certain factors which are to be rectified by the concerned states.  

The IAA, on the other hand, has jurisdiction only in Canada and yet still lacks certain parameters which shall affect the environment of the country. 

It can be underscored that both the policies lack one aspect or other and none of the policies have resulted in improved environmental conditions, in fact, the EIA, 2020, shall have more adverse effects compared to IAA, 2019. 


  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency/corporate/mandate/president-transition-book-2019/iaac.html 
  2. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/iaac-acei/documents/mandate/president-transition-book-2019/overview-impact-assessment-act.pdf 
  3. https://www.wcel.org/blog/canadas-proposed-new-impact-assessment-act-good-afar-far-good 
  4. https://cprindia.org/sites/default/files/Reduced%20Regulations%20and%20Increased%20Exemptions_Part%20I_30.07.pdf 
  5. https://blog.ipleaders.in/environmental-impact-assessment-notification-2020/ 
  6. https://thelawblog.in/2020/11/05/comparative-analysis-eia-draft-2020-v-iaa-2019/ 
  7. https://www.who.int/hhr/information/Human_Rights_Health_and_Environmental_Protection.pdf 

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