The purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is to identify and evaluate the potential impacts (beneficial and adverse) of development and projects on the environmental system. It is a useful aid for decision making based on understanding of the environment implications including social, cultural and aesthetic concerns which could be integrated with the analysis of the project costs and benefits. This exercise should be undertaken early enough in the planning stage of projects for selection of environmentally compatible sites, process technologies and such other environmental safeguards.
While all industrial projects may have some environmental impacts all of them may not be significant enough to warrant elaborate assessment procedures. The need for such exercises will have to be decided after initial evaluation of the possible implications of a particular project and its location. The projects which could be the candidates for detailed Environment Impact Assessment include the following:-
- Those which can significantly alter the landscape, land use pattern and lead to concentration of working and service population;
- Those which need upstream development activity like assured mineral and forest products supply or downstream industrial process development;
- Those involving manufacture, handling and use of hazardous materials;
- Those which are sited near ecologically sensitive areas, urban centers, hill resorts, places of scientific and religious importance.
- Industrial Estates with constituent units of various types which could cumulatively cause significant environmental damage.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be prepared on the basis of the existing background pollution levels vis-a-vis contributions of pollutants from the proposed plant. The EIA should address some of the basic factors listed below:
- Meteorology and air quality
- Ambient levels of pollutants such as Sulphur Dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, suspended particulate matters, should be determined at the center and at 3 other locations on a radius of 10 km with 120 degrees angle between stations. Additional contribution of pollutants at the locations are required to be predicted after taking into account the emission rates of the pollutants from the stacks of the proposed plant, under different meteorological conditions prevailing in the area.
- Hydrology and water quality
- Site and its surroundings
- Occupational safety and health
- Details of the treatment and disposal of effluents (liquid, air and solid) and the methods of alternative uses
- Transportation of raw material and details of material handling
- Control equipment and measures proposed to be adopted
- Preparation of Environmental Management Plan is required for formulation, implementation and monitoring of environmental protection measures during and after commissioning of projects.
Environmental Management Plan (EMP)
Preparation of environmental management plan is required for formulation, implementation and monitoring of environmental protection measures during and after commissioning of projects. The plans should indicate the details as to how various measures have been or are proposed to be taken including cost components as may be required. Cost of measures for environmental safeguards should be treated as an integral component of the project cost and environmental aspects should be taken into account at various stages of the projects:
- Conceptualization: preliminary environmental assessment
- Planning: detailed studies of environmental impacts and design of safeguards
- Execution: implementation of environmental safety measures
- Operation: monitoring of effectiveness of built-in safeguards
The management plans should be necessarily based on considerations of resource conservation and pollution abatement, some of which are:
- Liquid Effluents
- Air Pollution
- Solid Wastes
- Noise and Vibration
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Prevention, maintenance and operation of Environment Control Systems
- Human Settlements
- Transport Systems
- Recovery - reuse of waste products
- Vegetal Cover
- Disaster Planning
- Environment Management Cell
- Effluents from the industrial plants should be treated well to the standards as prescribed by the Central/State Water Pollution Control Boards.
- Soil permeability studies should be made prior to effluents being discharged into holding tanks or impoundments and steps taken to prevent percolation and ground water contamination.
- Special precautions should be taken regarding flight patterns of birds in the area. Effluents containing toxic compounds, oil and grease have been known to cause extensive death of migratory birds. Location of plants should be prohibited in such type of sensitive areas.
- Deep well burial of toxic effluents should not be resorted to as it can result in re-surfacing and ground water contamination. Re-surfacing has been known to cause extensive damage to crop and livestock.
- In all cases, efforts should be made for re-use of water and its conservation.
- The emission levels of pollutants from the different stacks, should conform to the pollution control standards prescribed by Central or State Boards.
- Adequate control equipment should be installed for minimizing the emission of pollutants from the various stacks.
- In-plant control measures should be taken to contain the fugitive emissions.
- Infrastructural facilities should be provided for monitoring the stack emissions and measuring the ambient air quality including micro-meteorological data (wherever required) in the area.
- Proper stack height as prescribed by the Central/State Pollution Control Boards should be provided for better dispersion of pollutants over a wider area to minimize the effect of pollution.
- Community buildings and townships should be built up-wind of plant with one-half to one-kilometer greenbelt in addition to physiographical barrier.
- The site for waste disposal should be checked to verify permeability so that no contaminants percolate into the ground water or river/lake.
- Waste disposal areas should be planned down-wind of villages and townships.
- Reactive materials should be disposed of by immobilizing the reactive materials with suitable additives.
- The pattern of filling disposal site should be planned to create better landscape and be approved by appropriate agency and the appropriately pretreated solid wastes should be disposed according to the approved plan.
- Intensive programs of tree plantation on disposal areas should be undertaken.
Noise and Vibration
- Adequate measures should be taken for control of noise and vibrations in the industry.
Occupational Safety and Health
- Proper precautionary measures for adopting occupational safety and health standards should be taken.
Prevention, maintenance and operation of Environment Control Systems
- Adequate safety precautions should be taken during preventive maintenance and shut down of the control systems.
- A system of inter-locking with the production equipment should be implemented where highly toxic compounds are involved.
House - Keeping
- Proper house-keeping and cleanliness should be maintained both inside and outside of the industry.
- Residential colonies should be located away from the solid and liquid waste dumping areas. Meteorological and environmental conditions should be studied properly before selecting the site for residential areas in order to avoid air pollution problems.
- Persons who are displaced or have lost agricultural lands as a result of locating the industries in the area, should be properly rehabilitated.
- Proper parking places should be provided for the trucks and other vehicles by the industries to avoid any congestion or blocking of roads.
- Siting of industries on the highways should be avoided as it may add to more road accidents because of substantial increase in the movements of heavy vehicles and unauthorized shops and settlements coming up around the industrial complex.
- Spillage of chemicals/substances on roads inside the plant may lead to accidents. Proper road safety signs both inside and outside the plant should be displayed for avoiding road accidents.
Recovery - reuse of waste products
- Efforts should be made to recycle or recover the waste materials to the extent possible. The treated liquid effluents can be conveniently and safely used for irrigation of lands, plants and fields for growing non-edible crops.
- Industries should plant trees and ensure vegetal cover in their premises. This is particularly advisable for those industries having more than 10 acres of land.
- Proper disaster planning should be done to meet any emergency situation arising due to fire, explosion, sudden leakage of gas etc. Firefighting equipment and other safety appliances should be kept ready for use during disaster/emergency situation including natural calamities like earthquake/flood.
Environment Management Cell
- Each industry should identify within its setup a Department/Section/Cell with trained personnel to take up the model responsibility of environmental management as required for planning and implementation of the projects.