Topics for Biodiversity
Types of Biodiversity
Environmental pollution, and degradation
* Environmental impact assessment
> Amendment to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Rules
- Exempted highway projects of strategic and defence importance: Any project which is 100 km from the Line of Control, among other locations, will be exempted.
- Exemption to the thermal power plant: Thermal power plants up to 15 MW based on biomass or non-hazardous municipal solid waste exempted.
- Ports which exclusively deal in fish handling, exempted
- EIA is a tool use to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision making.
- Evolution of EIA
- 1970: EIA introduced by NEPA in USA
- 1976-77: In India, Planning commission asks for river valley project to be examined from environmental angle
- 1994: EIA notification promulgated under Environment(protection) Act, 1986.
- 2006: Onus of clearing projects now on state governments.
- 2020: EIA notification which gives More Discretionary power to Government
- Make all the stakeholders aware of the environmental and socio-economic impact of the project
- Facilitates a basis for policy decisions: EIA provides the impact assessment well before the project is implemented.
- Helps to eliminate or minimize the adverse impact of developmental projects
- EIA encourages the adaptation of mitigation strategies in the developmental plan
- Protects the biodiversity of the environment by suggesting alternative safe project designs and methods.
- Simplifies the technical issues: EIA produces an environmental management plan and summary for the non-tech general public.
> EIA notification 2020 and its impact
- Public Consultation: Reduced to max 40 days and only 20 days (from 30days) for submitting a response
- This will help speed up the process of EIA. However, it may give very little time for Tribal and forest dwellers
- More Discretionary power for Government: Power to declare ‘economically sensitive areas’ without a public hearing as well as give any project ‘strategic tag’ (so no EIA obligation)
- This is important for the clearance of strategic projects related to defence and national security as well as projects deemed too important for the nation.
- However, there is fear of misuse of this clause for political or economic reasons to circumvent EIA
- Post-Facto-project clearance:
- This will enable ease of doing business and reduce bureaucratic delays. But it is a violation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence and is contrary to both the precautionary principle as well as the need for sustainable development.
- An extended period of Environmental clearance: From 30years to 50 years
- However, it raises the risk of irreversible environmental, health, and social consequence.
- Baseline data: No need to cover all the seasons in a year.
- This may make EIA less reliable and not reveal the full impact of EIA
- Report Issues: reduced from once every six months to once every year.
- This will dilute the scrutiny and it may be late before any mitigation measures could be taken for highlighted project impact.