Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

  Introduction to EIA

EIA - Definition

  • EIA is done to get Environmental Clearance from the Government for undertaking any developmental activity.
  • EIA is an exercise to be carried out before any project or its modernization stage or its expansion stage (2006 Notification).
  • It’s a policy and a management tool for both planning and decision making
  • EIA is a process which identify, predict, assess all likely impacts of a proposed developmental activity
  • It examines all positive and negative impacts of a proposed activity and try to enhance the positive impacts by modifying project

Environmental Impact Assessment is the process of identification of future consequences of current or proposed action. It is an intensively inter disciplinary process that utilizes the biological, physical and social sciences in analyzing the potential impacts of an action and devising strategies for minimizing or preventing such impacts.

The term ‘Environment’ includes:

Types of EIA

Rapid EIA : Based on one season data except monsoon season

Comprehensive EIA : Based on one year data including monsoon season

Purpose of EIA

EIA is mainly done to see the likely impacts of any activity and it basically focus on measures to reduce the negative impacts on environment therefore making project sustainable.

What EIA Do?

EIA ensure that the proposed activity will not cause short term and long term negative impacts on the environment. It identify and predict the impact of project on biological, geological, physical, physico-chemical environment and on human health. EIA also provide project alternatives and modification if required.

EIA Objective

The objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment as defined by the Ministry of Environment and Forest are

  • To achieve sustainable development
  • Prevention of long term adverse effects by incorporating suitable prevention and control measures

Need of EIA

Every anthropogenic activity has some impact on the environment, there is a need to harmonise developmental activities with the environmental concerns.Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is one of the tools available with the planners to achieve the above-mentioned goal.  It is desirable to ensure that the development options under consideration are sustainable.

The objective of EIA is to foresee the potential environmental problems that would arise out of a proposed development and address them in the project's planning and design stage. The EIA process should then allow for the communication of this information to:

  • the project proponent;
  • the regulatory agencies; and,
  • all stakeholders and interest groups

EIA integrates the environmental concerns in the developmental activities right at the time of initiating for preparing the feasibility report. In doing so it can enable the integration of environmental concerns and mitigation measures in project development. EIA can often prevent future liabilities or expensive alterations in project design.

EIA Origin

First EIA in India started in 1976-77 when the Planning Commission asked the then Department of Science and Technology to examine the river-valley projects from environmental angle.This was subsequently extended to cover those projects, which required approval of the Public Investment Board. These were administrative decisions, and lacked the legislative support.

The Government of India enacted the Environment (Protection) Act on 23rd May 1986. To achieve the objectives of the Act, one of the decisions that were taken is to make environmental impact assessment statutory. After following the legal procedure, a notification was issued on 27th January 1994 and subsequently amended on 4th May 1994

Besides this the Government of India under Environment (Protection) Act 1986 issued a number of other notifications, which are related to Environmental Impact Assessment.

EIA Myths

An EIA is NOT simply a Report but is a Process to make the project better. The EIA process is a planning tool to avoid adverse environmental impacts arising from the proposed development. The EIA Report is therefore a documentation of the EIA process. EIA is not solely for assessing impacts and identifying mitigation measures, public participation is a key element

How do you see the use of an EIA?

  • Consideration of alternatives
  • Public participation
  • Prediction of adverse environmental impacts
  • Proposing environmental mitigation measures
  • Increased attention in the EIA process to consider alternatives to avoid, minimise and mitigate adverse environmental impacts

Pillars of EIA


The EIA Cycle and Procedures

The EIA process in India is made up of the following phases:

EIA Guiding Principles 

Participation: An appropriate and timely access to the process for all interested parties.

Transparency: All assessment decisions and their basis should be open and accessible.

Certainty: The process and timing of the assessment should be agreed in advanced and followed by all participants.

Accountability: The decision-makers are responsible to all parties for their action and decisions under the assessment process.

Credibility: Assessment is undertaken with professionalism and objectivity.

Cost-effectiveness: The assessment process and its outcomes will ensure environmental protection at the least cost to the society.

Flexibility: The assessment process should be able to adapt to deal efficiently with any proposal and decision making situation.

Practicality: The information and outputs provided by the assessment process are readily usable in decision making and planning.

EIA – Benefits & Flaws

  EIA in India : Notification 27 January 1994

EIA was legally introduced in India when we got our first Govt. Notification in year 1994. This notification is the base of present EIA system (2006 Notification). So, we will briefly study 1994 notification and will then switch to the new notification which is followed right now in India.

EIA Notification 27th Jan1994

The environment impact process was integrated into the Indian legal system in 1994 when Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification came into existence

The objective of the Notification was to push for more sustainable industrialisation process in the country after giving due consideration to  environmental and social impacts

“Any person who desires to undertake any new project in any part of India or the expansion or modernization of any existing industry or project listed in the Schedule-I shall submit an application to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi”

Schedules in 1994 Notification

The notification had 4 schedules:

The notification imposed restrictions on setting up, modernising or expanding any new project or proposal without getting an environmental clearance from the government. All projects listed in Schedule 1 to get an environmental clearance from the Central government, be it, for setting or expanding any plant anywhere in the country. Also listed a number of projects/proposals, which have been exempted from the environment clearance process or public hearing. The notification also made provisions for formation of an Impact Assessment Agency (IAA), which essentially consisted of experts for review of the documents submitted to the MoEF for clearance

EIA notification 1994 was amended 12 times in 11 years

Schedule I : EIA 1994

The Schedule gives the list of all industries that need Environmental Clearance before starting their construction. THe table is just provided for information; not required now as we follow 2006 notification.

Public Hearing Exempted for some projects

The EIA should not harm basic economic development and mandatory project, keeping this in mind some projects were exempted (they were not required to do public hearing) from public hearning, however they were supposed to do EIA

Amendment : 10 April 1997

The process of environmental public hearing (EPH) was introduced in the environmental clearance process. The SPCBs were entrusted to conduct public hearing to get the views and concerns of the affected community and interested parties for the proposed project

It was also entrusted with forming an EPH committee to ensure fair representation in the public hearing process    

Amendment : June 2002 

It exempted pipeline and highway projects from preparing the EIA report, but these projects would have to conduct public hearings in all the districts through which the pipeline or highway passes.

Exempted, if the investment was less than Rs 100 crore for new projects and less than Rs. 50 crore for expansion/modernisation projects (Loophole)

Amendment : 2003

Took into consideration location-sensitivity into the environment clearance process

And many other amendments till year 2005…

Application Form : Form A  

The application form for seking EIA was called Form A which consist details of:

  • Name and Address of the project proposed,  Location of the project etc
  • Objectives of the project
  • Land Details (requirement, topography, pollution sources within 10km radius, distance from National Park, green belt plan, compensatory afforestation etc)
  • Climate and Air Quality
  • Water balance
  • Solid wastes
  • Noise and Vibrations
  • Risk Assessment, power requirement, Displacement and rehabilitation plan, Disaster Management, Labour force and their health care etc.

Procedure for seeking EC in 1994

 Composition of Expert Committee  

  1. Eco-system Management
  2. Air/Water Pollution Control
  3. Water Resource Management
  4. Flora/Fauna conservation and management
  5. Land Use Planning
  6. Social Sciences/Rehabilitation
  7. Project Appraisal
  8. Ecology
  9. Environmental Health
  10. Subject Area Specialists
  11. Representatives of NGOs/persons concerned with environmental issues (Maximum 15)

Public Hearing

The State Pollution Control Board shall cause a notice for environmental public hearing which shall be published in at least two newspapers widely circulated in the region around the project, one of which shall be in the vernacular language of the locality concerned

State Pollution Control Board shall mention the date, time and place of public hearing

Suggestions, views, comments and objections of the public shall be invited within thirty days from the date of publication of the notification

Who can Participate in Public Hearing ?? 

  • any person who is likely to be affected by the grant of environmental clearance
  • any person who owns or has control over the project with respect to which an application has been submitted for environmental clearance
  • any association of persons whether incorporated or not like to be affected by the project and/or functioning in the field of environment
  • any local authority within any part of whose local limits is within the neighbourhood wherein the project is proposed to be located

They can also make oral/written suggestions to the State Pollution Control Board

Public Hearing Panel

1994 Notification : Constraints

  • Cumbersome procedure
  • Burden on Central Government and clearance took more than a year
  • Delay in appraisal meetings
  • Time consuming and requiring undue effort
  • Poor quality of EIA studies by consultants

Due to all these constraints the new notification came in 2006 and is followed till date in India.




  EIA Notification 14 September 2006

To overcome the loopholes of 1994 notification, on 14 September 2006 new EIA notication was published by MoEF.

This has overrided the old notification and is presently followed strictly in India.



To formulate a transparent, decentralized and efficient regulatory mechanism to:

  • Incorporate necessary environmental safeguards at planning stage
  • Involve stakeholders in the public consultation process
  • Identify developmental projects based on impact potential instead of the investment criteria


Which project require EC ???

Categorization of projects and activities

Category A needs to take EC from Central Government however, Category B by State Government.

Categorization based on :

  • spatial extent of impacts
  • impacts on natural and man made resources
  • impacts on human health

Project  Categories

The projects were broadly divided into 8 major categories and industries were listed according under them

  1. Mining, extraction of natural resources and power generation
  2. Primary Processing
  3. Material Production
  4. Material Processing
  5. Manufacturing/Fabrication
  6. Service Sectors
  7. Physical Infrastructure including Environmental Services
  8. Building /Construction projects/Area Development projects and Townships

When B Category becomes A ??

this means if even a small part of project is within 10km radius of these four mentioned area that the project proponent needs to go to center for approval. Approval from Center is always difficult as the projects are evaluated at National level.

General Conditions are one of the most important point mentioned in 2006 notifiation.


Specific Condition (SC):

  Project Category - 1


In case of Mining Projects

If the mining area is more than or equal to 50 hactares then the proponent needs to go to Center for EC however, if the area is less than 50 hactares then the proponent will take EC from State.

But if the mining is for asbestos; even for a very small mining area the proponent needs to go to Center.

Geenral Conditins shall apply for clearance.


  Project Category - 2

  Project Category - 3

  Project Category - 4

  Project Category - 5

  Project Category - 6

  Project Category - 7

  Project Category - 8

  Sole 'A' Category Projects

The list of 8 category has been now changed due to change in thresholds or amendments in 2006 Notification. All of the changes will be discussed later in tutorial.

Sole A category projects are all big projects that get their EC from Center (MoEF) -

  1. Offshore & onshore oil & gas exploration and production
  2. Nuclear power projects and processing of nuclear fuel
  3. Petroleum refining industry
  4. Asbestos milling and asbestos based products
  5. Soda ash industry
  6. Chemical fertilizers
  7. Pesticide and pesticide specific intermediates (excluding formulations) – All units producing technical grade pesticides
  8. Petrochemical complexes (industries based on processing of petroleum fractions & natural gas and/or reforming to Aromatics
  9. Oil & gas transportation pipeline (crude and refinery/ petrochemical products), passing through national parks/sanctuaries/coral reefs/ecologically sensitive areas including LNG terminal
  10. Airports
  11. All ship breaking yards including ship breaking units
  12. Asbestos mining
  13. Primary metallurgical industry
  14. All molasses based distilleries
  15. Pulp manufacturing and pulp & paper
  16. New national highways

  Sole 'B' Category Projects

Sole B category projects are all those projects which are not very big and environmentally disastrous thus get there EC from respective State Governemnts -

  1. Integrated paint industry
  2. Induction/arc furnaces/cupola furnaces 5TPH or more
  3. Isolated storage & handling hazardous chemicals (as per threshold planning quantity indicated in column 3 of Schedule 2 & 3 of MSIHC Rules 1989 amended 2000)
  4. Aerial ropeways
  5. Common effluent treatment plants (CETPs)
  6. Common municipal solid waste management facility (CMSWMF)
  7. Building and construction projects
  8. Township and area development projects
  9. Paper manufacturing (non-pulp manufacturing)
  10. New state highways

Then, their are industries with threshold i.e. the industries to whome a numerical value has been assigned to decide whether they will get EC from Center or State

For Example:

Mining of Minerals (based on mining area), Thermal Power Plants (based on MW of energy generated), River Valley projects  (based on MW of energy generated and area required) etc

  General Condition (GC)

We have discussed it in previous chapter, but it is one of the most imporatant part of 2006 Notification thus again mentioned seperatly and clearly

Any project or activity specified in Category ‘B’ will be treated as Category ‘A’, if located in whole or in part within 10 km from the boundary of:

1. Protected Areas notified under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972,

2. Critically Polluted areas as notified by the Central Pollution Control Board from time to time (Example Delhi, Kanpur, Gaziabad etc)

3. Notified Ecologically sensitivity areas (list given by CPCB; Airports, Esturies, corals etc)

4. Inter-State boundaries and international boundaries


Suppose you are a proponant and you want to start a project in Punjab which is near to Himachal Pradesh border. Though your site is not critically polluted and is not near to protected area/ecologically sensitive area, but as you are near to State border (10km radius) therefore you need to take EC from Center, MoEF.

  Environmental Clearance (EC) by Whom ???

In Center we have MoEF to give clearance who do so with the suggestion of their Technical committee called Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)

Every State has their SEIAA (State Govt.) to give clearance by the lines of their Technical Committee called (SEAC).

Remember a very important point that MoEF and SEIAA are the signatories however EAC and SEAC are the technical committee who see the technical aspects of projects (have experts from all environmental fields)

  Expert Committees in EIA


  • Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) at the Central Government


  • State Expert Appraisal Committees (SEAC) at the State or the Union territory


EAC and SEAC are responsible for screening, scoping and appraising projects