Environmental Impact Assessment: From a National and International Perspective
The article 'Environmental Impact Assessment: From a National and International Perspective' delves into EIA as it is an important subject that examines the long-term effects of development on the environment.
The article 'Environmental Impact Assessment: From a National and International Perspective' by Saman Rizwan delves into EIA as it is an important subject that examines the long-term effects of development on the environment. The inevitable aspect of any life form is its environment. The environment has gradually deteriorated from a healthy state to having the highest degradation rates recorded to date with the passage of time. The most obvious explanations for the current situation point to the effects of the quick-paced developmental activities as a result of rapid globalisation. In the late 1960s, it changed from being a desire to a necessity to be able to foresee these effects before the developmental activity occurred.
Owing to this, the idea of Environmental Impact Assessment was evolved (EIA). In simple words, EIA is an evaluation of the quality of the human environment to reduce negative environmental effects and pave the way for alternate options for decision-makers.
Man has always been a product of his surroundings. Man must preserve both his surroundings and the development he seeks to develop and maintain his existence. The idea and rate of human growth altered as the years and centuries went by. The world underwent a radical transformation from agriculture for self-sufficiency to industrialisation for increased wealth. We are conscious that the environment is never static. The environment is dynamic, and in the modern period, its dynamic nature is being accelerated beyond normal levels by man's different activities.
The interaction between people and their surroundings has long been a subject of intense discussion. As the years went on, the resources were gradually exhausted as a result of man's dependency on his surroundings. This is becoming a major cause for concern for both national and international institutions. EIA as a concept evolved throughout time as a result of all these actions.
What are Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)?
Environmental impact assessments are the evaluation processes used to investigate the potential effects of a project or plan before it is implemented and put into action. In other words, the idea seeks to halt and prompt reflection on whether these industrial endeavours are appropriate for a society and its environment.
EIA evaluates and attempts to predict the results of these initiatives or plans, as the name suggests. The International Association for Impact Assessment has defined it as
"the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals before major decisions are being taken and commitments made."
Because an ecosystem has a particular tolerance limit, the environment is a very delicate and important area that needs a lot of care and attention. After this point, the system's likelihood of collapsing increases; in other words, it cannot bear too many stresses at once. This implies that the ecosystem can only support a limited number of concurrent developmental processes at any one time.
Understanding the nature of the environment and the rate of natural change experiences regularly is essential for predicting or learning about the likely impacts on an environment that a developmental activity will have. This understanding and calculation help to understand and determine how the proposed developmental activity could be accommodated by a given environment at a given point in time under given environmental conditions. Environmental impact assessments are site and time-specific.
These impact evaluations result in a preventive strategy whereby the planning components of these development projects are addressed from the very beginning phases themselves, which is the essential moment in terms of environmental management. This is because if environmental planning is carried out or started at this initial stage, i.e. before the designs and financial aspects have been planned or established by these industries looking to carry out the developmental projects, they will have enough time and opportunities to make the necessary changes that allow these projects to move forward in an environmentally friendly manner. The idea of environmental impact assessment, which is concerned with evaluating the potential consequences of projects related to these numerous developmental activities, is currently receiving international recognition. This recognition is slowly happening but progressively.
Origin & Development
EIA is one of the most successful environmental policy innovations of the twentieth century. There was no EIA 37 years ago, but it is now a formal process in many countries and is practised in over 100 countries. With the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969 in the United States, EIA as a mandatory regulatory procedure began in the early 1970s. A large portion of the early development occurred in a few high-income countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (1973-74). However, some developing countries, such as Columbia (1974) and the Philippines, were among the first to implement EIA (1978).
After the mid-1980s, the EIA process took off. The World Bank adopted EIA for major development projects in 1989, requiring borrower countries to conduct an EIA under the supervision of the Bank. The development can be understood by the following timeline-
Pre 70’S Development
- Review of the project based on technical/engineering and economic analysis.
- Environmental consequences were given little thought.
- NEPA established EIA in the United States in 1970.
- Basic principle: Implementation of guidelines and procedures, including a requirement for public participation.
- Standard impact analysis methodologies have been developed (e.g. matrix, checklist and network).
- In 1973-1974, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were the first countries to implement NEPA. Canada and New Zealand established administrative procedures, as opposed to Australia, which legislated EIA.
- Major public inquiries aid in the development of the process.
Late 70’s and early 80’s:
- More formalised direction.
- Other developed and developing countries imposed formal EIA requirements.
- Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), and risk analysis is included in EA processes used by developing countries (Brazil, Philippines, China, and Indonesia).
- More emphasis should be placed on ecological modelling, prediction, and evaluation methods.
- Provision for public participation.
- Coordination of environmental assessments with land use planning processes.
Mid 80’s to end of the decade:
- More formalised direction.
- Other developed and developing countries imposed formal EIA requirements.
- Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), and risk analysis are included in EA processes used by developing countries (Brazil, Philippines, China, and Indonesia).
- More emphasis should be placed on ecological modelling, prediction, and evaluation methods.
- Provision for public participation.
- Coordination of environmental assessments with land use planning processes.
- Espoo convention requires consideration of transboundary effects.
- Increased use of geographic information systems (GIS) and other information technologies.
- Sustainability fundamentals and global issues are receiving increased attention.
- India formally adopted the EIA as well.
- Many developing countries are developing EA legislation.
- The rapid expansion of EA training.
The environmental impact assessment consists of eight steps, each of which is equally important in determining the project's overall performance. Typically, the EIA process begins with screening to ensure that time and resources are directed towards environmentally significant proposals, and it concludes with some form of follow-up on the implementation of decisions and actions taken as a result of an EIA report. The eight steps of the EIA process are summarised below:
- Screening: The first stage of EIA in which it is determining whether the proposed project requires an EIA and, if so, what level of assessment is required.
- Scoping: During this stage, the key issues and impacts that should be investigated further are identified. This stage also establishes the study's boundaries and time frame.
- Impact analysis: This stage of EIA identifies and forecasts the likely environmental and social impacts of the proposed project, as well as assesses its significance.
- Mitigation: In this step of the EIA process, actions are recommended to reduce and avoid the potential negative environmental consequences of development activities.
- Reporting: At this stage, the EIA results are presented to the decision-making body and other interested parties in the form of a report.
- EIA review: It examines the adequacy and effectiveness of the EIA report and provides decision-making information.
- Decision-making: It determines whether the project should be rejected, approved, or modified further.
- Post Monitoring: This stage takes effect after the project has been commissioned. It ensures that the project's impacts do not exceed legal limits and that mitigation measures are implemented in the manner described in the EIA report.
Relevance of EIA
This topic is becoming increasingly important as a result of rapid industrialization and the expansion of negative environmental effects. The most immediate goal of this concept is to ensure that these industrial developments and other growth-related activities proceed in a reasonably acceptable manner.
It is quite noticeable and apparent that assessments of impacts, in general, are under pressure in this generation. Scholars and policymakers around the world are making various impacts, whether in economic, environmental, or social contexts, to obtain an effective and accurate assessment of the same. It has been observed that the emerging role of these impact assessments has resulted in a greater interest in the practical evaluation of current situations.
Looking at the answer to the question of why this is particularly important right now, it is clear that we are heading towards a very dangerous situation of limited resources and an ever-increasing population. As a result, it is critical to address this growing situation with care and urgency. The process of assessing the environmental impact involves a variety of activities. The investigation into these environmental issues and their interrelationship with the proposed action's impacts is critical in terms of EIA.
The need of the hour is to keep the environment in good condition. However, when thinking along these lines, one must also consider the significance of development for a nation. It is not an easy task to balance the rate of development while also paying attention to the possibility of environmental degradation caused by such activity. The concept of Environmental Impact Assessment is highlighted in this section. EIA requirements recognise and take into account a few things that are critical for balancing the current situation, such as critical inspection of the environmental implications of these projects, alternative methods that can be used, and broadening the scope of public involvement.
EIA is not just a mechanism for ensuring the integrity of environmental policies and norms; it also has relevance in the field of establishing a foundation of connection with other nations and thus ensuring economic bonds. EIA has been recognised by both the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It should be noted that the World Bank has also adopted this concept and is preparing guidelines emphasising the importance of EIA in their approval processes. Foreign investments have generally recognised the importance of EIA. This is because environmental aspects of potential projects can be investigated at an earlier stage, reducing the liability risks associated with these investments by money lending agencies, and it can thus be understood that there is a need for essential and efficient laws on the subject.
The various processes used during the assessment, namely a specific set of environmental values, aid in analysing the proposed projects and actions to be undertaken for its development, thereby attempting to suggest and put forth viable alternatives that can be adopted if these actions appear to be dangerous to the environment in which it is proposed to be developed. Here, almost all aspects of these actions are examined through a determination based on values. The emphasis on values raises the question of whose values should guide the process, whether they should be more inclined towards the role assumed by parties with potential interest in the same or towards those who will be affected by a proposed action.
It is likewise imperative for humans to recognise the significance of every decision they make because these will ultimately affect future generations to whom they will be held completely accountable. If properly implemented, the concept can serve as an effective tool for analysing and mitigating the negative effects of human activity on the environment. Because of the current topic's importance, many studies and ongoing research are being conducted. This is because the topic is much more relevant today than it was in the 1950s or 1960s, given the rate of development, which is rapidly increasing. This fundamental analysis of the current topic is only possible if it is examined from its inception to its current state.
This is because the topic is much more relevant today than it was in the 1950s or 1960s, given the rate of development, which is rapidly increasing. This fundamental analysis of the current topic is only possible if it is examined from its inception to its current state.
History and Legislative Framework of EIA Process at International Scenario
The beginning of modern international environmental law can be tentatively dated to 1972, when the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment convened in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a watershed moment in environmental law, coinciding with historical developments dating back to UN resolutions in 1968.
The United States was the first to implement EIA. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was passed to protect the environment (NEPA) and to put EIA into action. This legislation reverberated in tandem with growing climate conscience across the country, beginning with "Silent Spring" by "Rachel Carson," bringing massive environmental destruction caused by the pesticide industry to the forefront of public policy debate, signalling to lawmakers the need to put a legislative framework in place to balance development and environmental protection. Impact assessment is a multi-step process and tool for promoting long-term growth.
Various countries and organisations have used the EIA as a decision-making tool. In 1974 and 1979, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued EIA recommendations to its member countries, and in 1986, it issued recommendations for development aid projects. In 1992, the OECD issued guidelines for good EIA practices (OECD, 1992).
In 1987, UNEP established the goals and principles of EIA for member countries, and in 1988, it guided basic EIA procedures. In 1980, the World Conservation Strategy identified the need to integrate environmental concerns with development. In 1987, the World Bank adopted an EIA policy that stated that environmental issues must be addressed as part of overall economic policy.
The World Bank published the Operational Directive on Environmental Assessment in 1989, and it was revised and updated in October 1991. In 1990, the Asian Development Bank issued EIA guidelines (ADB, 1990). The Brundtland Report in 1987 emphasised the importance of EIA, as did the United Nations Earth Summit on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. (UNCED, 1992). As predicted, EIA has emerged as a tool for decision-making all over the world.
History and Legislative Framework of the EIA Process in India
Indian experience with Environmental Impact Assessment dates back more than 20 years. It began in 1976-77 when the Planning Commission asked the Department of Science and Technology to conduct an environmental assessment of the river-valley projects. This was later expanded to include projects that required approval from the Public Investment Board. Until 1994, the Central Government's environmental clearance was an administrative decision with no legislative backing.
On 27 January 1994, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF), Government of India, issued an EIA notification under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, making EC mandatory for the expansion or modernization of any activity or the establishment of new projects listed in Schedule 1 of the notification. The EIA notification of 1994 has been amended 12 times since then.
In September 2006, the MoEF notified EIA legislation in a series. The notification requires environmental clearance for a variety of projects, including mining, thermal power plants, river valley infrastructure (roads, highways, ports, harbours, and airports), and industries, including very small electroplating or foundry units. Unlike the EIA Notification of 1994, however, the new legislation has placed the onus of project clearance on the state government, depending on the size/capacity of the project.
Certain activities permitted under the Coastal Regulation Zone Act of 1991 also necessitate similar authorization. Furthermore, donor agencies operating in India, such as the World Bank and the ADB, have different requirements for granting environmental clearance to projects funded by them.
Later, the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2020, was enacted to replace the 2006 notification. There have been significant deviations from the previous notification. The 2020 Draft included new provisions such as- Reduced Time for Public Hearings, projects exempted from public scrutiny, Post-clearance compliance, Annual Submission of Reports, Post-facto Clearance, Penalty for Firms etc.
Environmental Impact Assessment: Indian Judicial Viewpoint
In India, the decisions of the Honourable Courts with an explicit focus on the Environmental Impact Assessment are very limited. The courts have observed the Environmental Impact Assessment Statements in the majority of cases where development projects are tested as posing a risk to the climate but have not gone into the subjective parts of it. There are acceptable quantities of cases where the courts have moved further proactively to choose their expert committees to discover logical varsities of the proposed project under conflict. However, in the Indian situation, unadulterated assessment of discoveries in Environmental Impact Assessment reports or remarking on the discoveries of the EIA study led by the courts has yet to occur.
Through some judgments, Indian courts have outlined the specific grounds on which administrative action requiring environmental approval could be challenged, including, but not limited to. In the landmark case of Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. v. Union of India, Civil Appeal Nos. 2776-2783 of 2013, the arbitrariness of bureaucratic procedure, illegality, irrationality, and procedural impropriety were used as grounds for judicial review. As a result, granting environmental approval by the competent body outside of the authority's legal authorities was ruled invalid. If the decision violates the Wednesbury Principle, the Court may intervene based on irrationality. It was also decided that permission could be challenged if it was granted without following the proper procedure.
The Supreme Court, in another landmark environmental case, Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v Union of India, AIR 1996(5) SCC 64, established the concept of sustainable development in India. It was held that, while development and businesses are important in a country's growth cycle, the doctrine of sustainable development must be adopted by policymakers as a balancing concept.
In the matter of Gram Panchayat Navlakh Umbre, the Bombay High Court has upheld that the "decision-making process of those authorities must result in a reasoned conclusion which is reflective of a due application of mind to the various concerns arising from a project such as the present, in addition to being transparent. The mere fact that a committee is made up of specialists is not enough of a guarantee that the outcome of its proceedings would be equitable and proper.”
To demonstrate the nature of discussions while considering a project for the recommendation, the views, opinions, comments, and suggestions made by every member of the committee must be recorded in a structured format.
In Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana and Ors, (2012) 4 SCC 629, while scrutinizing the role of private expert bodies and consultants in the EIA, the court stated that state governments should be discouraged from granting mining licenses/leases to plots smaller than five hectares to reduce circumvention and ensure sustainable mining.
The most recent innovation in the current process of Environmental Impact Assessment resulted from objections made by several judges to the current institutional arrangement regarding the EIA. The Supreme Court recently established a "National Environmental Agency" to oversee this process. The Court in N Godavarman v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995 observed that the “current mechanism under the EIA Notification... is deficient in many ways, and what is required is a national regulator...who can carry out an independent, objective, and transparent appraisal and approval of projects for environmental clearances, as well as monitor the implementation of the conditions outlined in the Environmental Clearances.”
The EIA process in India faces several major challenges, the most significant of which is the need for greater transparency, expanded administrative responsibility, and improved public cooperation quality. Each of these issues has been addressed by the Court's mediation in various cases. The Court's new request for an independent national environmental regulator to screen the EIA process reflects the Court's concern about piecemeal policy reforms and an effort to provide an unmistakable institutional system for resolving the current difficulties.
Position of Environmental Impact Assessment in the Legal Scenario
Harold Koh says EIAs are a way of ‘‘bringing international environmental law home."
EIAs bring international environmental principles to exert on domestic decision-making processes, thereby implementing international environmental legal instruments at the domestic level. The EIA process, on the other hand, is designed in such a way that neither the participants nor the standards invoked are left unaffected. Unlike legally binding legislative processes, the self-regulatory aspect of EIA allows participants to create and comment on the meaning of environmental norms in light of a set of known conditions.
Thus, the concept of environmental impact assessment is still evolving to meet the needs of the time, and there is a significant gap in the international regime in the case of environmental impact assessment because there is no comprehensive binding convention in place. Despite these shortcomings, the international framework has attempted to step up in delivering 'global good' by developing guidelines for EIA implementation among domestic jurisdictions, thereby increasing the concept's impact and scope.
India is one of the world's largest democracies, a country rich in biodiversity, and a country with a comprehensive model of EIA policies and laws.
The existing model of EIA law in India is attempting to address the existing cry for environmental protection against the backdrop of the country's rapid development, but it is noted that there are gaps to be filled in the policies and enforcement of these laws.
The Indian environmental legislation covers a wide range of topics, including pollution control and the conservation of major environmental resources. As previously stated, Indian legislation emphasises assessing the environment to study the effects of rapid development activities in the country, and thus EIA principles are viewed with special importance among other environmental legislations.
One of the very early legislations, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, highlights the concept of EIA by discussing relevant mechanisms of monitoring, licencing, and the need for proper vigilance, and has provisions highlighting the process of post-EIA monitoring that is conducted after licencing. In a similar context, the Forest (Conservation) Act was enacted in 1981, when the impact of various forest resources on the environment began to deteriorate. According to this legislation, the central government has the authority to enact procedures based on the concept of EIA to monitor and analyse the usage pattern of forest land.
The Environment Act of 1986 was a departure from previous laws in that it attempted to standardise basic environmental norms and thus produce a few refined EIA methodologies. This act's idea was carried forward through various procedures by subsequent Acts, namely the Public Liability Insurance and National Environment Tribunal Acts of 1991 and 1995, respectively; these can be viewed as legislations with healing effects in the post-EIA phase.
It is an indisputable assumption that the amended 2020 notification is far from what India requires in terms of environmental affairs right now. Yes, the entire strategy in India has shifted to easing business and development, but as the Supreme Court has held in several cases and as what it deemed best for all, the concept of sustainable development through public participation and discussion is being subdued here.
It can be concluded that the first generation of environmental laws attempted to adopt the concept of EIA but was only appreciative, and when viewed critically, it is clear that it does not go beyond that. The recent trends of environmental laws try to address EIA with much seriousness and have also come forward to take a procedural approach.
Thus, looking at the picture of implementation both internationally and nationally, it is clear that getting the written technical aspects of the assessment process into actuality is not EIA's strong suit. Even though the process has many advantages, the truth is that the desired results are not being achieved in the current state of affairs.
How successful is this mechanism in terms of curbing environmental depletion?
EIA as a process entails gathering data, reducing it to possible hypotheses, and making predictions as a result. This is essentially a scientifically themed, legal activity used for data collection. This eliminates much of the bias that could arise on the part of the developer as well as those who sanction the same.
Secondly, the science involved in EIA has a much broader scope. Previously, the emphasis was solely on preserving nature's existing resources. When it comes to EIA, science has played a critical role in developing an understanding broad enough to cover all possible sets of consequences on the ecology of the proposed development plan, rather than just the remote, immediate consequences. Third, science is a subject that has universal application, and scientific information based on universal truth can be applied anywhere, regardless of remote factors.
Even though ecological information about a place is most specific and local to its geographical location, by basing EIA on a fundamental strength of science, the information gathered can be perceived as broadly applicable to various kinds of ecological issues at hand, that is, all of these are bundled and interpreted in a standard form of environmental issues. Thus, it can be concluded that the scientific persona of EIA, combined with environmental awareness, primarily gives rise to effective EIA legislation.
EIA has been working to protect the environment and prevent harmful effects from development activities, thereby protecting the community as a whole. Even the judiciary became more sensitive to these issues, demonstrating the trust that EIA has built over the years. In Bombay Environment Action Group v. State of Maharashtra, the Court determined that the authorities investigated the project's critical situations and imposed strict safeguards. The court held that: “We find on the part of the authorities and experts all the seriousness while considering and deciding upon the varied factors and circumstances including the environment about this project… decision of said authorities can’t be said to be arbitrary/ capricious or one, not in good faith or actuated by improper motive or extraneous considerations”
Aside from the strict conditions that the EIA successfully implements to slow the current rates of environmental damage, it also encourages public participation.
A positive trend has recently emerged in which EIA laws are adopting legal and quasi-legal strategies for preventing environmental depletion by enacting regional EIA laws. With the slowly developing regional EIA enactments, environmental depletion is being controlled at a much faster rate. The Ministry of Environment is working hard to issue new notifications in specific areas and to eliminate certain strategies to improve existing conditions. These regional EIA laws have been successful in reducing environmental depletion in sensitive areas ranging from valleys to different heritage conservation zones.
This recent trend of securely fastening EIA laws on biodiversity-rich regions can be concluded to be very useful in the current times, as these laws address conservation objectives with much-needed clarity. According to the research, it is understood that EIA has been successful at its own pace to control environmental depletion, though there are obstacles that contribute to the overall process slowing down at various points in time.
Shortcomings of EIA
After extensive research into this topic, the shortcomings of the concept can be narrowed down to primarily two types.
The first type is caused by a systemic problem. On the one hand, when the proposed development design is cyclical in nature, the EIA process is typically a one-time exercise. Furthermore, this exercise is mostly neglected in its implementation at very late stages, resulting in a problematic situation in the systematic conduct of EIA when the process appears very late in the scene of the project initiation stages, resulting in projects conforming to their particular concept of design. In this situation, EIA cannot do much to fulfil its potential role.
The second type's shortcoming is less fundamental than the first type's and thus can be corrected if acted correctly without further delay. This is about the analysis and other related activities that could be carried out to improve a preliminary weak initial implementation. This can be accomplished by encouraging activities such as risk assessments, broad public participation, research into the scope of social impacts, and other post-project monitoring.
As we have seen, EIA is a very complex process. There is nothing that can stop its complexity; rather, the points of detailing can be increased; and there can be an infinite number of different types of alternatives that can be proposed for a proposed project. When the concept is large, there is always room for confusion and questions about it. The same can be said for EIA. The concept is very likely to have its problems because it has the herculean task of balancing development and anti-environmental development aspects.
In the context of EIA, practicality is a critical term. The process's technicality is evident throughout the reports, texts, and other relevant materials. The issue here is that as the technicality increases, the concept becomes less focused, which means that EIA loses its adjusted seat of practicality. It is clear from readings of various scholars that experts continue to struggle to identify and pinpoint the exact problem to arrive at a workable solution. The main suggestion here is that more sharpening and focus be applied to the various EIA-related institutions, documents and materials, and processes. In short, EIA, both in theory and practice, requires a complete reality check.
Though many approaches have been taken to improve the existing EIA system, the main suggestion is that focusing on the 'capacity building' aspects may lead to better practises in this area. This can be accomplished by encouraging more research into the various aspects of this topic. Capacity building in EIA is inextricably linked to countries' overall institutional capacity. It was seen previously that in some developing countries, EIA is a pre-requisite for the assistance of developmental programmes where there is no proper framework for protecting the environment & common man.
Better training and proper guidance regarding the distinction between good and bad EIA practices can be provided to the various practitioners involved in the field. Suggestions on this point are highlighted by opening the door to ideas on publishing guidance on specific aspects of the EIA procedure. In the long run, the researcher believes that strengthening capacity building will be beneficial in developing and maintaining certain standards of the EIA concept.
Setting up and organising provisions for adequate training of these project managers and other technical specialists is recommended, as this may eventually help to improve the EIA mechanism's practice standards.
Another major suggestion for ensuring proper implementation of the established rules is to organise better measures to look into the follow-up portion of the approved actions. When the EIA process is narrowed down and decided to be implemented, the most important factor to consider is feasibility. The problems with ignoring feasibility are that it will eventually lead to the EIA process ignoring decision-makers, resulting in poor implementation. It is thus recommended that the feasibility of the EIA process be considered at an early stage.
The environment is a complex matter. Because it is one of the most pressing issues, there has been a tremendous increase in interest in environmental issues over the last few decades. Discussions about sustainability and better management of the concept of development in harmony with the burning theme of the environment have grown.
Several conferences on these topics are held throughout the year to deal with the deteriorating environmental situation more effectively, and these often pave the way for international environmental treaties. Growing global concern about environmental issues necessitated viable solutions to bring the situation under control. In this context, the concept of Environmental Impact Assessment was introduced in the legal arena to provide legal support and strength for environmental protection. The basic understanding of EIA is that it first oversees the proposed project and its predicted environmental consequences, not only in the short term but also in the long term. The EIA procedure then sets out the alternatives for the development project and calculates both the costs and the benefits of such alternatives. Third, and most importantly, involve the public and relevant interest groups by informing them about the basic contents of the EIA; they are expected to negotiate various aspects of the development plan. The conclusion of the entire procedure is reached near the end, and the decision is mostly made by the government agencies of respective countries. EIA is relevant to a wide range of development activities, including various plans, projects, policies, and so on. A developmental activity is, in many ways, a very sensitive topic because development has the potential to produce both negative and positive effects in total.
It is hereby concluded and observed that there are several shortcomings and drawbacks in the current EIA system, including the low reliance on impact assessment consultants due to a lack of accountability and integrity, poorly designed consultation procedures, mostly at a very late stage of the assessment, and the lack of a mechanism to check the correct compliance of the conditions of post-clearance stages of the projects. To summarise, an environmental impact assessment has served as a safeguard against the potential consequences of development plans. Until now, it has been able to serve its purpose, despite encountering numerous practical difficulties on its path to completion. The future trends should unveil whether EIA can withstand the test of time.
 The Constitution of India
 National Environmental Policy Act 1969
 Water (Prevention And Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
 Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986
 What Is Impact Assessment?, Available Here
 Legislation covering Environmental Impact Assessment, Available Here
 Environmental Impact Assessment, Available Here
 Understanding EIA, Available Here
 New environment impact norm cuts time for Public Hearing, Available Here
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