|Conducting Environmental Impact Assessment in Developing Countries (United Nations University, 1999, 375 p.)|
|2. Introduction to EIA|
The EIA needs to be managed so that it provides information to decision makers at every stage of the project planning cycle. Figure 2.1 shows the various options for conducting EIA vis-is the project.
EIA can be done sequentially, i.e., it may be conducted after the engineering/economic planning stage in the project cycle. The resultant EIA report would provide the required mitigation measures in order to implement the project in an environmentally sound manner. The second option is to conduct environmental planning (which includes the EIA study) and engineering/economic planning concurrently to emerge with a suitable project alternative together with requisite mitigation measures for project implementation. The goal, however, is to integrate the environmental aspects in the project cycle, as shown in Figure 2.2, considering EIA as a management tool on a par with engineering studies and economic planning. Such an integration of EIA into the project cycle would probably maximize its effectiveness and minimize delays in project implementation.
The major benefit of using EIA in project planning is to prevent avoidable losses of environmental resources. A feature often overlooked by various developers is that a well-prepared EIA incorporated into the planning and design of a project can save the developer and regulatory agency valuable time and expense. If the EIA is performed early enough to be considered during the decision-making phase, delays in construction and operation owing to government regulatory procedures can be minimized. Improper planning or design that will lead to unacceptable levels of environmental deterioration may require costly rectification, remediation, or replacement.
EIA should therefore be initiated as early as possible and should also include a provision to cover the monitoring of project implementation and operation and eventually an audit of the project. In some cases, e.g., nuclear power projects, it will also be important to include project decommissioning within the scope of EIA.