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EIA-Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an effort to anticipate, measure and weigh the socio-economic and biophysical changes that may result from a proposed project. It assists decision-makers in considering the proposed projectís environmental costs and benefits. When the benefits sufficiently exceed the costs, the project can be viewed as environmentally justified.

This is a relatively new planning and decision-making tool first enshrined in the United States in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. It is a formal study process used to predict the environmental consequences of any development project. 

Environmental Assessment enables us in carrying out Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis of projects at an initial stage. It is thus a pre-cursor to detailed analysis of environmental impacts, which are taken up only if a need for the same is established. It gives a view of the actors involved in the `development-environment linkages. This is required in view of the fact that the community at large is always at a loss in terms of deterioration of living environment that accompanies industrial development. Based on Environmental Assessment, the regulatory measures can be identified and the roles of concerned agencies defined for achieving more efficient environmental management.

In view of the fact that development is an ever-growing process, its impact on the environment is also ever increasing, leading to rapid deterioration in environmental conditions. As such Environmental Assessment provides a rational approach to sustainable development. 

EIA, in brief, extrapolates from scientific knowledge to assess the problem consequences of some human interventions on nature. Although EIA uses the techniques of science, it differs from ordinary scientific inquiry, because it is dealing with events which have not yet occurred, may not occur, and whose chances of occurrence may be changed by the very statement that they may occur.

Some measures are required to be taken in the future to reduce the anticipated environmental degradation. Before starting a major project, it is essential to assess the present environment without the project, and the likely impact of the project on the environment, when it is completed. Therefore, an Environment Impact Assessment has to be made before starting a project. For analysis of environmental impacts, many professions and disciplines have to be involved. Like economic and engineering feasibility studies, Environmental Impact Assessment is a management tool for officials and managers who make important decisions about major development projects.


 

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