Sample Materials for CSAT Paper -1 (G.S.) Pre 2013: “Environment and Ecology: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)”

Materials From Our Study Notes for CSAT Paper -1 (G.S.) Pre 2013

Subject: Environment and Ecology
Topic: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important management tool for
ensuring optimal use of natural resources for sustain-able development. A
beginning in this direction was made in our country with the impact
assessment of river valley projects in 1978-79 and the scope has
subsequently been enhanced to cover other developmental sectors such as
industries, thermal power projects, mining schemes etc. To facilitate
collection of environ-mental data and preparation of management plans,
guidelines have been evolved and circulated to the concerned Central and
State Government Departments. EIA has now been made mandatory under the
Environmental (Protection Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental
activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.

Environmental Appraisal Committees

With a view to ensure multi-disciplinary input required for environmental
appraisal of development projects, Expert Committees have been constituted
for the following sectors:

  • Mining Projects
  • Industrial Projects
  • Thermal Power Projects
  • River Valley, Multipurpose, Irrigation and H.E. Projects
  • Infrastructure Development and Miscellaneous Projects
  • Nuclear Power Projects

Environmental Appraisal Procedure

Once an application has been submitted by a project authority alongwith
all the requisite documents specified in the EIA Notification, it is
scrutinised by the technical staff of the Ministry prior to placing it
before the Environ-mental Appraisal Committees. The Appraisal Committees
evaluate the impact of the project based on the data furnished by the
project authorities and if necessary, site visits or on the spot assessment
of various environ-mental aspects are also undertaken. Based on such
examination, the Committees make recom-mendations for approval or rejection
of the project, which are then processed in the Ministry for approval or

In case of site specific projects such as Mining, River Valley, Ports and
Harbours etc., a two stage clearance procedure has been adopted whereby the
project authorities have to obtain site clearance before applying for
environmental clearance of their projects. This is to ensure avoiding areas
which are ecologi-cally fragile and environmentally sensitive. In case of
projects where complete information has been submitted by the project
proponents, a decision is taken within 90 days.


After considering all the facets of a project, environmental clearance is
accorded subject to implementation of the stipulated environ-mental
safeguards. Monitoring of cleared projects is undertaken by the six regional
offices of the Ministry functioning at Shillong, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh,
Bangalore, Lucknow and Bhopal. The primary objective of such a procedure is
to ensure adequacy of the suggested safeguards and also to undertake
mid-course corrections required, if any. The procedure adopted for
monitoring is as follows:

  • Project authorities are required to report every six months on the
    progress of implementation of the conditions/safeguards stipulated,
    while according clearance to the project.
  • Field visits of officers and expert teams from the Ministry and/ or
    its Regional Offices are undertaken to collect and analyse performance
    data of develop-ment projects, so that difficulties encountered are
    discussed with the proponents with a view to finding solutions.
  • In case of substantial deviations and poor or no response, the
    matter is taken up with the concerned State Government.
  • Changes in scope of project are identified to check whether review
    of earlier decision is called for or not.

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Coastal Area Management

Coastal States/UTs are required to prepare Coastal Zone
Management Plans (CZMPs) as per the provisions of the Coastal Regulation
Zone (CRZ) Notification 1991, identifying and categorising the coastal areas
for different activities and submit it to the Ministry for approval.

The Ministry has constituted a Task Force for examination
of these plans submitted by Maharashtra and Gujarat States have been
discussed in the meetings of the Task Force and these need to be modified.
The Government of Orissa has submitted a partial plan covering only a part
of their coastal area. In respect of West Bengal, a preliminary concept
document of the CZMP has been submitted. Revised CZMP/clarifications have
been received from the State of Goa and UTs of Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and
Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

During the year, the Task Force had seven meetings and
two site visits for consideration of the plans. Once the plans of the
different States/UTs are finalised, the development activities in the
coastal belt would be more forcefully regulated to ensure non-violation of
CRZ Notification.

Island Development Authority (IDA)

The 9th meeting of IDA was held on 22.1.96 under the
Chairmanship of the Prime Minister to decide on various policies and
programmes aimed at integrated development of the islands, keeping in view
the relevent aspects of environmental protection, and also to review the
progress of implementation and impact of the programmes of development.

Studies on Carrying Capacity

Natural resources are finite and are dwindling at a fast
pace. Optimization of natural resources for achieving the objective of
sustainable development is therefore, self evidents, this can be done only
when environ-mental considerations are internalized in the development
process. It has often been observed that one or more natural resource(s)
becomes a limiting resource in a given region thereby restricting the scope
of development portfolios. The Ministry of Environment & Forests has been
sponsoring Carrying Capacity Studies for different regions. The studies

  • Inventorisation of the natural resources available;

  • Preparation of the existing environ-mental settings;

  • Perspective plans and their impact on natural
    resources through creation of “Business As Usual Scenario”;

  • Identification of “Hot Spots” requiring immediate
    remedial action to overcome air, water or land pollution;

  • Formulation of alternative development scenarios
    including a Preferred Scenarios. A comparison between “Business As
    Usual” and the “Preferred Scenario” would indicate the future course of
    action to be adopted for development of the region after the package has
    been discussed with the local people as well as the planners.

A few problem areas such as the Doon Valley – an
ecologically sensitive area, the National Capital Region (NCR) which is
suffering from air and water pollution as well as congestion, Damodar River
Basin which is very rich in natural resources and yet has extensive
environmental degradation and Tapi estuary which represents the problems in
the coastal region both for water and land development, have been selected
for carrying out such studies.

A multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional approach has
been adopted for conducting these studies. Draft reports are ready for Doon
Valley and the NCR and are being discussed with the NGOs and the local
people for finalising the same. Work relating to Damodar Basin and Tapi
Estuary is continuing with respect to secondary data collection and analysis
so as to identify the requirements of primary data collection and
modification in the development scenarios.

Test Your Knowledge

1.Consider the
following statements:

  1. Environmental Appraisal committee has six
    regional office.

  2. Government of India Notified coastal
    regulation zone in 1991.

  3. The Green Advisory Group was set up in

Which of the above statements is/are
true ?

  1. All of the above

  2. 1 only

  3. 2 & 3 only

  4. 1 & 2 only

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Answer of Question 1: A

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