Mandatory provision to ensure quality of Environmental Impact Assessment reports on the cardsThe government is considering amending the Environment Protection Act with a mandatory provision that will ensure quality Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) reports.
The government is considering amending the Environment Protection Act with a mandatory provision that will ensure quality Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) reports.
An amendment draft of the Environmental Protection Act has already been prepared for the same. The Ministry of Forest and Environment has tabled the draft at the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs seeking suggestions.
Clause 10 of the proposed draft has a provision that demands the proposer or consultant of a development project to ensure that the EIA and IEE reports meet all the standards before the project starts. The existing Environment Protection Act-1997 doesn’t have such a provision.
The EIA is the calculation of the environmental consequences (positive and negative) of a development project done prior to the implementation of any project; whereas, the IEE describes the environmental condition of a project, its impacts and its mitigation measures.
Joint Secretary Sindhu Prasad Dhungana, spokesperson for the Forest Ministry, said such provisions are being inducted into the Act in view of the growing negligence in the EIA and IEE reports in recent times.
One such report was the EIA report of the proposed international airport in Nijgadh, Bara, which drew a lot of criticism. The Ministry had approved the EIA report of the Nijgadh International Airport in haste, despite its lack of quality and serious errors. It was later found that the report—prepared by GIA Consultant, Sanepa,—had been brazenly copied from other EIA reports.
The draft law states that any consultant who tables the report without meeting this new criteria will be banned for up to five years by province ministry on IEE category and by federal ministry on EIA category.
Experts say most EIA reports are copied, and they are cynical about how effective adding the provision in the Act will be in ensuring the quality of such reports. “It is an internationally established practice that the EIA should be of quality,” said Batu Krishna Uprety, a former head of the Climate Change Management Division at the Ministry of Environment. “Everyone knows the report can’t be compromised on quality. If the report doesn’t meet the criteria, it should be rejected. There is no need to mention it in the law itself.”
The draft states that a brief environment report, IEE of the national priority projects, foreign investment projects approved by Investment Board, national pride projects, and expansion of government prioritised electricity transmission line projects will be prepared by the federal ministry.
The IEE and environment reports of other projects will be approved by local units, IEE Province Ministry and the federal Ministry of Forest and Environment. The proposed legislation also has the provision to impose a fine from Rs500,00 to Rs25,00,000—based on the nature of the project—on the project that carries out the work without getting the EIA approved. There is also the provision to impose a fine of upto Rs10,00,000 on those defying the rules, directives and criteria under the Environment Protection Act.