Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a formal process to be used to examine the environmental consequences of proposed. development projects, programmers and policies and suggest relevant management actions. Contrary to the belief . EIA is not meant for examining adverse consequences only, it should also look into the possible positive effects of a development activity and identify ways of enhancing them further by carrying out modifications in the project. A comprehensive process of EIA, hence, involves study of the probable changes in the physical and biological as well as socio-economic environment which may result from the proposed development activity or project, and formulating a suitable environment management plan to minimize adverse effects and to enhance positive effects.
The objective of an EIA is to ensure that potential problems are foreseen and addressed at an early stage in the project’s planning and design. To achieve this the assessment’s findings are communicated through an EIA report to all the groups who will make decisions about the proposed project, that is, the project developers, their investors, as well as regulating authorities, planners and politicians. Design, execution and operation of the project can be planned in the light of the findings of the EIA, so that the expected benefits can be sustained with minimum and acceptable adverse environmental impacts. Thus, essentially, an EIA should :
- identify sources of impacts of the project activities, both during construction and operational stages, on the various environmental components and recognizes those which are critical to the change.
- predict the impacts using qualitative and, if possible, quantitative methods.
- recommend an environmental management plan to reduce adverse impacts and enhance positive contributions of the project, by exploring changes in technology, use of raw materials, fuels, designs, operational practices, or even by evaluating alternative sites for the project.
- present the results of impact identification, prediction and assessment, with suggested mitigative measures.
- set the basis for continuous monitoring of key project activities and environmental conditions.