Environmental Impact Assessment
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This article is written by Pari Khurana, from Ansal University, Gurgaon. This is an exhaustive article which merely deals with the Environmental impact assessment and various modes of executions.


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an operation to assess the probable environmental impacts of a propound project or development, taking into consideration socio-economic, culture and human-health impacts are both favourable and adverse. It is basically an environmental gauge of a scheme, stratagem, program, or actual projects, prior to the decision of progressing with the proposed measures. It systematically scrutinizes both beneficial and adverse repercussions of the project and corroborates that these further effects are must to be taken into account. Furtherly, It assists to analyse the most feasible way of the environmental effects in that particular project, proposes measures to alleviate the effects and then forecast whether there will be notable adverse environmental effects, even after the diminution is implemented.

EIA is so unique that It hardly requires any adhesions to pre-arranged environmental outcomes. Properly managing, EIA also reduces the conflicts by encouraging community participation, by appraising decision makers etc. EIA has been overviewed in all the stages of a project, from investigation and planning, through construction, functioning, demilitarization, and beyond site closures. The United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EAI) as an object clearly used to identify the environmental, social and economic collision of a project antecedent to decision making. It focuses to examine environmental repercussions at an early stage of the project planning and design. It gradually found ways to reduce such adverse impacts. Environmental Impact Assessment in India is statutorily backed by an act namely, Environment Protection Act, which basically contains the various allocations on EIA methodology and process. It is a gentle process to rectify the upcoming events or matters of current or proposed action.

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There are several objectives of the Environmental Impact Assessment as follows-

  1. Firstly, It leads to Identification, forecasting and assessing the economic, environmental and social impact of developed activities.
  2. For the decision-making process, it provides relative information on environmental consequences.
  3. Through the proper mode of identification of a mitigation process, It promotes environmentally sound and sustainable development.
  4. It further seeks to increase the apprehensions of the ecological system and natural resources which are essential to the world.
  5. It also provides a better understanding of the desegregated perspective of a region about and undergoing developments.
  6. It provides negative and positive aspects of any project.

History of EIA in India

India has been experiencing the impact of environmental assessment so far. The Indian exploration of the Environmental Impact Assessment began over approximately 20 years back. It started in 1976 when the Planning Commission asked the department to examine the projects from the environmental areas. This was eventually extended to cover all those aspects which almost requires the approvals of the Public Investment Board (PIB). Till then environmental clearance was the main objective which instead lacked legislative support. In the year 1994, the Government of India started an initiative under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, which publicized the notification for making the Environmental Clearance as the necessary part for the expansion of any venture or activity listed in the Schedule.There was an addition of many amendments in it.

The Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified new legislation on EIA. The notification makes it necessary for various projects such as mining, river valley infrastructure etc must get through the environment clearance. Moreover, regardless of the fact EIA is the new legislation, it has stepped forward to state the clearance object on the government specifically depending on the project size.

Assessment of the EIA system in India

Meanwhile, after the investigation of the title role of all the particular actors in the EIA, the institutional and legal basis of EIA got appraised. This system is analysed based on the system of evaluation criteria. From all these proceedings, it further got cleared with the facts that EIV has still a long way to go in the legal provisions. Besides, for the blemish in the EIA provisions and operations, the screening method still becomes one of the major chunks of activities required out of EIA. As far, whichever activity has been covered throughout or performed by the current provisions were cleared without adhering to them as has been justified in the case of Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, 1997.

Case study – Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project

As India does not have a definite and a continuous route around the peninsula running around its own territory. Therefore, all the ships from west to east have to go by another side adhering to an additional distance. The Ministry of shipping recognized the Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) as the agency for the implementation of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project. Through his major initiative which leads India to fall into many beneficiary parts as through these shipping channels, there is enough water shelter route to the ships coming from the eastern side or western side.

India’s major outlook on EIA 

There are significant changes that were carried out through the 2006 amendment.

  1. Firstly, the suburbanised regulatory functions to the state level Environmental impact assessment agency.
  2. The State Pollution Control Board was given the charge responsibility to overhear the public voice, taking away the responsibility from the proponent.

These were the given changes that were implemented just to make the appraisal changes more streamlined and transparent. The court has ensuing the expanded and deepened impacts of these changes through their major decisions in the EIA process.

Case Law- Sterlite Industry ltd. v. Union of India,2013

Facts- In this case, the Supreme Court had discussed the relevant grounds on which the administrative actions including certain approvals must be challenged. The ground for judicial review was filled with illegality, irrationality and so on. Therefore, the granting of approval from a certain authority simply outside the powers lined with the law, which would be a ground for irregularity. If the decisions were to suffer from unreasonableness then they could interfere with the irrationality. Nevertheless, it could not sustain itself, where it found that the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) had recommended certain issues without any applications.

Process of EIA

EIA further includes the following steps which have to be followed-

  1. Screening- The first step includes the identification part. Where it has to be analysed as to which area or a part of the developmental project requires a full assessment study.
  2. Scoping-Here includes overlooking those arenas which state the potential impacts to assess, also to recognize alternative solutions that have been avoided or compensating those adverse impacts affecting biodiversity.
  3. Collection of data- The baseline data has to be collected which states the environmental status of a study area.
  4. Public hearing- Mainly after the completion of a project, certain groups of people living close by to a project are thereby informed of the same.
  5. Decision making- The discussion leads to the consulted authorities taking charge of the project to take it to a final decision.
  6. Risk assessment- Inventory analysis and hazardous property and index also lead to EIA procedures.

Mandatory Reportings

Environmental Impact Assessment is a tool to measure sustainable development through recognition with the impacts relatively adhering to the environmental effects. It is awaiting, participatory and structured in nature and also depends on certain issues. In addition, EIA is a phrase which comes from Section 102(2) of the National Environmental Policy Act. MOEF has categorised certain sectors which require the predetermined clearance before inaugurating any project activity. These are further categorised on the basis of the project and their mode of activity. Certain sectors are as follows-

  1. Mining/ underground mining
  2. Petroleum refining industry
  3. Cement plants
  4. Coal washeries
  5. Thermal Power Plants
  6. Distillers
  7. Sugar Industry
  8. Integrated Paint Industry
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Importance of EIA

It has benefitted throughout. Some of the benefits are as follows-

  1. EIA associates the environment with the development of environment-based sustainable development.
  2. It is provided with the relevant method to minimise the adverse impacts of the developmental projects.
  3. It also heartens the adaption of certain practices in the plan such as mitigation practice.
  4. It corroborates that the developmental plan is environmentally clear and sound as well as within the limits of regeneration of the ecosystem.
  5. Certain effects have to be analysed by the consulted authorities.
  6. The profound group looks at the matter and takes it into consideration before implementing the project.

Shortcomings of EIA

There are several shortcomings out related to the EIA, i.e:

  • It costs time delays which states that it delays both the company projects as well as the government. This may cause trouble for clients who have to submit their work before the deadline.
  • However, It requires preparation and follow-ups. As many countries face issues related to this matter. Sometimes they skip one or both these procedures.
  • A number of projects with the relevant environmental impacts have been excluded from the mandatory public hearing process.
  • The data collectors, however, do not pay respect to the indigenous knowledge of the local people.

Advantages of EIA

There are several advantages of EIA such as:

  1. EIA is a system of apparatus which helps in designing the proper use of natural and human resources significantly.
  2. It can recognise such areas where there is a need for adverse effects and so guide site selection.
  3. It identifies the consequences as well, which can lead to an introduction of pollution control measures.
  4. It can aid the most benefited site in terms of reducing or minimising the harmful effects.
  5. It reduces the time while implementing any of the projects.
  6. It certainly avoids the violation of the laws and regulations so far.
  7. This is one of the finest sites for the selection and priority settings.
  8. However, It also activates the Institutional buildings.

EIA Related Studies

Social Impact Assessment (SIA)

It is a process which includes examining, observing, superintending the intended and unintended communal repercussions. It includes both positive as well as the negative impacts of an organized mediation and all changes involved in that mediation. Moreover, the analysis includes the further use of many activities such as the use of land, terrain, doing agriculture, farming etc. This is interlinked with one another. The social, economic and biospheric impacts are interconnected.

Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA)

It has been a much easier process to be undertaken than the EIA i.e Environmental Impact Assessment. It is such an easier and effective mode that has its numerous impacts on the projects so far due to such more reasons. It is known for its key mode of sustainable development. Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) lays down its main aspiration into the incorporation of the environmental factors and sustainability matters which automatically falls into the criteria of the decision making process. Such as Implementation of policies, forms etc. It is an effective mode of development which has widened its parameters so far.

Cost-benefit analysis

The affiliation of ecology and economics is the rudimentary thesis of a report by the World Commission on Environmental Development. It argues the cases mainly for consuming the extended cost-benefit analysis in environmental impact assessment. However, it requires socio-economic integration. The choice of an assessment framework is a fundamental step for an Environmental assessment. The customary ventures to develop the integrated assessment of inconsistent recourse is to register for cost-benefit, which mainly has some positive impact but at the same time, it is one of the weakest as well. There are some main objectives which have to be seen during the project analysis.

  1. To make the unequivocal economical, mathematical assumptions on which the CBI is based upon.
  2. Discussions on the main characteristic of these assumptions.

In order to weigh the cost effective benefits,cost-benefit analysis usually attempts to put a value on both of these so that they come along the same unit.


EIA indisputably has a pivotal role to play in subscribing to the environmental issues surrounding projects and development, mainly the power project. Environmental protection and economic development must be dealt with in a consolidated manner. The amalgamation of environment and developmental planning is the most paramount in achieving sustainable development. The EIA process requires certain objects to be taken into consideration for protection in any arena of development. Despite all these, Environmental Impact Assessment has come up with one crucial part for the Planning project.

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