TAPASYA ANSWERS 4 OCTOBER 2022
Q. 1 What is Environment Impact Assessment? What are the issues in its implementation?
Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA is the process or study which predicts the effect of a proposed industrial/infrastructural project on the environment. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a tool available to the planners to achieve the goal of environmental preservation along with ensuring developmental activities.
The EIA process looks into the following components of the environment.
• Quality of ambient air present and predicted.
• Meteorological data: Wind speed, direction, humidity, etc.
• Quantity of emission likely from the project.
• Impact of the emission on the area.
• Pollution control desires/air quality standards.
• Levels of noise present and predicted
• Strategies for reducing noise pollution.
• Existing ground and surface water resources, their quality and quantity within the zone.
• Impact of a proposed project on water resources.
• Flora and fauna in the impact zone.
• Potential damage (likely) due to project, due to effluents, emissions, and landscaping.
• Biological stress (prediction).
• Study of soil characteristics, land use, and drainage pattern, and the likely adverse impact of the project.
• Impact on historical monuments and heritage sites.
EIA involves the steps mentioned below. However, the EIA process is cyclical with the interaction between the various steps.
• Screening: The project plan is screened for scale of investment, location and type of development and if the project needs statutory clearance.
• Scoping: The project’s potential impacts, zone of impacts, mitigation possibilities and need for monitoring.
• Collection of baseline data: Baseline data is the environmental status of study area.
• Impact prediction: Positive and negative, reversible and irreversible and temporary and permanent impacts need to be predicted which presupposes a good understanding of the project by the assessment agency.
• Mitigation measures and EIA report: The EIA report should include the actions and steps for preventing, minimizing or by passing the impacts or else the level of compensation for probable environmental damage or loss.
• Public hearing: On completion of the EIA report, public and environmental groups living close to project site may be informed and consulted.
• Decision making: Impact Assessment Authority along with the experts consult the project-in-charge along with consultant to take the final decision, keeping in mind EIA and EMP (Environment Management Plan).
• Monitoring and implementation of environmental management plan: The various phases of implementation of the project are monitored.
• Assessment of Alternatives, Delineation of Mitigation Measures and Environmental Impact Assessment Report: For every project, possible alternatives should be identified, and environmental attributes compared. Alternatives should cover both project location and process technologies.
• Once alternatives have been reviewed, a mitigation plan should be drawn up for the selected option and is supplemented with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to guide the proponent towards environmental improvements.
• Risk assessment: Inventory analysis and hazard probability and index also form part of EIA procedures.
Shortcomings of EIA Process
• Applicability: There are several projects with significant environmental impacts that are exempted from the notification either because they are not listed in schedule I, or their investments are less than what is provided for in the notification.
• Composition of expert committees and standards: It has been found that the team formed for conducting EIA studies is lacking expertise in various fields such as environmentalists, wildlife experts, Anthropologists and Social Scientists.
• Public hearing:
• Public comments are not considered at an early stage, which often leads to conflict at a later stage of project clearance.
• A number of projects with significant environmental and social impacts have been excluded from the mandatory public hearing process.
• The data collectors do not pay respect to the indigenous knowledge of local people.
• Quality of EIA: One of the biggest concerns with the environmental clearance process is related to the quality of the EIA report that is being carried out.
• Lack of Credibility: There are so many cases of fraudulent EIA studies where erroneous data has been used, the same facts used for two totally different places, etc.
Q 2.Environmental Impact Assessment is need of the hour. However, due to multiple reasons EIA is not being implemented properly. What Measures can be taken for effective Implementation of EIA?
Independent EIA Authority.
• Sector wide EIAs needed.
• Creation of a centralized baseline data bank.
• Dissemination of all information related to projects from notification to clearance to local communities and general public.
• All those projects where there is likely to be a significant alternation of ecosystems need to go through the process of environmental clearance, without exception.
• No industrial developmental activity should be permitted in ecologically sensitive areas.
• Public hearings should be applicable to all hitherto exempt categories of projects which have environmental impacts.
• The focus of EIA needs to shift from utilization and exploitation of natural resources to conservation of natural resources.
• At present EIA reports are extremely weak when it comes to assessment of biological diversity of a project area and the consequent impacts on it. This gap needs to be plugged.
• All EIA reports should clearly state what are the adverse impacts that a proposed project will have. This should be a separate chapter and not hidden within technical details.
• It is critical that the preparation of an EIA is completely independent of the project proponent.
Grant of clearance
• The notification needs to make it clear that the provision for site clearance does not imply any commitment on the part of the impact Assessment agency to grant full environmental clearance.
Composition of expert committees
• The present executive committees should be replaced by expert’s people from various stakeholder groups, who are reputed in environmental and other relevant fields.
Monitoring, compliance and institutional arrangements
• The EIA notification needs to build within it an automatic withdrawal of clearance if the conditions of clearance are being violated and introduce more stringent punishment for noncompliance. At present the EIA notification limits itself to the stage when environmental clearance is granted.
• The composition of the NGT needs to be changed to include more judicials from the field of environment.
• Citizen should be able to access the authority for redressal of all violation of the EIA notification as well as issues relating to non-compliance.
• NGOs, civil society groups, and local communities need to build their capacities to use the EIA notification towards better decision making on projects.
Q 1.Child abandonment is rising in these days. What are the reasons? What measures can be taken to avoid it?
Abandonment vs safe surrender
An abandoned child means a child who is deserted by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians, while a surrendered child is relinquished on account of physical, emotional and social factors beyond their control
Data by the National Crime Records Bureau show that no less than 709 criminal cases of ‘exposure and abandonment of child under twelve years’ under Section 317 of the Indian Penal Code were registered in the year 2021.
Reasons for child abandonment
As most of the reasons for child abandonment are an unwanted pregnancy, breakdown of a relationship, lower socio¬economic status, eitheror both parents being drug addicts or alcoholics, a child can be considered eligible for surrender and declared so after the prescribed process of inquiry and counselling.
Why to Choose ‘safe surrender’ over infant abandonment?
It is always advisable to surrender a child rather than abandon him if the conditions to retain the child are beyond the control of parentsor guardian.
Abandonment endangers the child’s life. Surrender before the CWC is a guarantee that the child will be taken care of till he or she attains majority or is adopted by a fit and willing parent.
It is pertinent to note that no case is registered when a child is surrendered to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) constituted under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (or the JJ Act)
According to the portal of the Central Adoption Resource Authority, there were 2,991 in-country adoptions and 414 inter¬-country adoptions in 2021-¬22.
Awareness is the key One of the major reasons for the abandonment of children is a lack of awareness about the law on the surrender of unwanted children. Since it is believed that most cases of unwanted pregnancies are known to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), daais and anganwadi workers, who have a strong network in villages, educating and sensitising them may reduce incidents of abandonment. The staff of nursing homes should also be included in such a programme.
Although, the surrender deed is to be executed before the CWC, a parent or guardian may approach any police officer, public servant, ChildLine services, recognised non¬governmental organisations, voluntary organisation, child welfare officer or probation officer, social worker or public-spirited person, nurse or doctor or management of a nursing home, hospital or maternity home when wanting to surrender a child.
Wide publicity needs to be given to these provisions of the JJ Act so that no child is deserted, and parents, guardians and functionaries who are mandated to report any abandonment do not face a risk.