Introduction to EIA
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a policy and management tool for both planning and decision-making. EIA assists to identify, predict, and evaluate the foreseeable environmental consequences of proposed development projects, plans, and policies. The outcome of an EIA study assists the decision maker and the general public to determine whether a project should be implemented and in what form. EIA does not make decisions, but it is essential for those who do.
Environmental assessment (EA) refers to an understanding of the present status of environmental impacts and a study of how to manage them. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is the final step of an EIA/EA exercise where the conclusions of the assessment are put out in a communicable form to the concerned developer or authority. There is thus a distinction between the terms EIA, EA, and EIS.
A frequent opinion is that an EIA should usually only examine or look into the possible negative consequences of a project on the environment. Any positive issues emerging from the development are taken as stated by the project proponent or the developer. However, EIA is not restricted or biased to the examination and mitigation of negative impacts alone. EIA can also look into the possible positive issues due to the developmental projects and explore or suggest ways of enhancing them further by carrying out modifications in the project.