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Management of EIA Process

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Environmental Impact Assessment

Introduction

The proper management of different processes in an EIA makes it a powerful tool for organizations to understand their environmental impacts. The management of the EIA process helps organizations achieve environmental compliance and develop environment-friendly practices. It also lets them mitigate adverse effects early in constructing a project. The benefits of EIA processes are:

  1. Optimum utilization of natural resources
  2. Environmental protection and preservation
  3. Mitigation and minimization of environmental impacts
  4. Prediction of adverse effects of projects on the environment

We will now take a detailed look at each step and discuss its significance to the effective management of EIAs. 

Environmental Management Plan

If you’ve ever taken a course in chemistry in college, your professor must have given you a laboratory manual. The manual would have contained standards for measurements and rules that you must follow in the laboratory. That’s very similar to an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). An EMP is important in the management of the EIA process. An EMP is a document containing guides to measure and comply with the environmental protection needs of a project. Project proposals need to conform to these ecological standards for the developers to gain a working permit or approval. 

Management of EIA Process

Developers or developing organizations produce an EMP guidance document at the project planning, application, or approval stage. The guide proves that the developers have agreed to follow specific management strategies to reduce environmental impacts during project work. It may also include mitigation measures for contractors to follow during the project’s construction. 

Environmental Monitoring

The objectives of environmental monitoring include the monitoring of a project’s performance. It also includes monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation measures. Authorities achieve environmental monitoring by obtaining biota, soil, water, and air samples to study and observe how the environment responds to a project. The project may either be a new one or an existing one under expansion or change. Environmental monitoring also helps to verify the ecological impacts predicted during EIA studies. Monitoring the environment is essential to ensure that the project complies with regulatory requirements. Environmental monitoring forms an important aspect of the management of the EIA process. 

Management of EIA Process monitoring suvey

The following indicators are of particular importance while conducting environmental monitoring surveys:

1. Air quality

PM2.5, CO, SO2, and NO2 are some air quality parameters that need to be monitored during construction. The EIA must specify how often authorities should monitor the air quality of the proposed project.

2. Water quality

Authorities must regularly monitor the water quality in water bodies surrounding the project site. The regular monitoring of water bodies helps developers and organizations check whether the project has had any adverse effects on water quality. If it does, they can immediately develop compensatory or mitigation measures.

3. Solid waste management

Organizations must manage the waste produced during the construction and operation of the project effectively. Hazardous and industrial waste must be safely stored and treated to protect the environment from exposure to such wastes.

4. Noise levels

Organizations must also constantly monitor noise levels at the project site. It must be monitored at multiple locations at varying distances from the project. This ensures that the impact of noise on the environment is minimal.

Developing and formulating an Environmental Monitoring Plan is essential for effective environmental management. It helps in the effectiveness of mitigation measures during the construction and operation of the project.

Environmental Auditing

An Environmental Audit (EA) is a documented, periodic, and systematic process in assessing an organization’s or a project’s activities. The management of the EIA process highly depends on a well-performed environmental audit. The concept of an environmental audit is quite similar to the exams we give in academic institutions. Environmental auditing involves:

  1. The assessment of the project’s compliance with regulatory requirements
  2. Managing and controlling environmental practices
  3. Promoting good environmental management practices
  4. The maintenance of public credibility
  5. Improving existing environmental practices
  6. Establishing baselines for the development of an environmental management system.

Organizations no longer consider an environmental audit as an option but a sound precaution in today’s age. It is a proactive measure. An EA plays a vital role in incorporating environmental protection practices in the operation of a project. It helps an organization develop and improve environmental policies regarding the project. 

EIA Report Review and Decision Making

EIA report reviews are the final step in assessing the quality of an EIA report. An organization submits an EIA report to appropriate authorities to obtain a license or approval for a project. Once the organization presents the report, the designation authorities will check it thoroughly. They will meticulously go through the methods, data, interpretation, and conclusions to assess the proposed project’s impacts. The review will determine whether or not a project should progress to the development or construction stage. It also determines if the project has addressed relevant environmental concerns, social impacts, and other risks. This is a critical step in the management of EIA process. 

A transparent decision-making process is an important part of an effective EIA. Decision-makers utilize all the information obtained during the study of an EIA to finally decide whether to go ahead with the project or not. A wise decision balances economic, environmental, and social criteria. Once made, authorities must make the decision clear to the public to gauge their reactions and opinions and, if necessary, make room for further improvement.    

Stakeholder Consultation and Public Participation

The World Bank has found that stakeholder involvement and public participation in EIA leads to an improved project design. It also results in compliance with environmental norms and acceptability among social groups. EIAs that consult with a wide range of stakeholders tend to be successful. These EIAs lead to the development of more social and environmental benefits. Non-inclusive EIAs tend to have higher impacts on social groups and the environment. They also have less influence over the planning and implementation of environment-friendly practices in projects. Stakeholder consultation and public participation are vital in the management of the EIA process. 

The key benefits of stakeholder involvement and public participation in an EIA are:

  1. Addressing relevant social and environmental issues
  2. Obtaining traditional environmental knowledge to improve approaches to project development
  3. Improving understanding among communities about the working of a project
  4. Enabling the needs and concerns of different stakeholders to be taken into consideration
  5. Ensuring that the organization can effectively address the magnitude and significance of environmental impacts

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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