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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Environmental Impact Assessment and its roles

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The assessment of all possible effects on environment of an area due to the establishment of a plant, an industry, a developmental project or due to modernization of an old factory is called as Environmental Impact Assessment or EAS.

In today’s modern societies, the progress of a country is judged by the status of development or the economic progress. For this, different new plants and factories have to be set up and the old ones have to be modernized and expanded to increase production. All this is almost a must for every country, underdeveloped or developed.

The problem arises only when these developmental activities damage the natural equilibrium of our environment. So, some sort of statutory regulations have to be prescribed and strictly enforced to ensure nil or minimum damage to the environment of that particular area.

There are following steps of Environment Impact Assessment -
-    Monitoring and sampling of pollutants,
-    Quantitative and qualitative analysis of pollutants
-    Complete study to assess every possible damage due to exposure to pollutants emitted or discharged from the plant, factory or industry

The scientific process of taking care of quality of air, water, soil etc through testing, measuring, observing and evaluating various pollution levels is called as monitoring. Sampling is the process of collection of samples of air, water and soil for various types of tests of pollution around some fixed parameters. After testing the pollution quantitative and qualitative analysis of data obtained through various tests are done and compared with the standards or acceptable levels fixed earlier. On this basis as assessment regarding the risk or damage to environment caused by a plant, factory or industrial unit is made.

Principal aims of Environmental Monitoring are -
-    to establish a baseline of exposure, to provide an estimate of the levels of pollutants in specific environmental compartments to which the general population is exposed
-    To know whether the level of particular pollutant in the specific environment, correlate to a suspected source of contamination, if so, to identify the contribution of the source
-    To estimate the changes in the levels of various pollutants in the specific environments

Role of environmental Impact Assessment
The EIA is carried out as per the guidelines fixed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest itself. It covers -
-    Any possible chance of land degradation, due to the project or the industry
-    Extent of forest clearance and measures of regeneration
-    Types of pollution, due to project or industry and measures for its abatement
-    Extent of problem of displacement of local inhabitants of that area and measures for their rehabilitation
-    Probable or acute loss of biodiversity, in the affected areas
-    Probability of health hazard that may occur due to emission and/ or discharge of toxic pollutants
-    The analysis of risk that may be caused due to the above
-    Provisions for the management of hazardous situations
-    Method of waste management already in use or to be taken up after installation is completed

The emission and discharge of pollutants from industrial units can create heavy pollution of air, water and soil. The study of Environmental Impacts of these pollutants is carried out on a regular basis for a better appreciation and management of the environment.

A comprehensive plan made for the overall assessment of impact of emission and discharge of pollutants into environment and its control measures is called as Environmental Management Plan or EMP.

Key Words : EAS, sampling, testing, monitoring, pollutants, EMP

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