Environmental Regulations And Assessment
The main purpose of the Environmental Impact Assessment is to determine the potential social, environmental, and health effects of any proposed development plans. It, therefore, helps the project owners in determining the project process and evaluating the consequences before taking any decision about the project. It consists of a compilation of different project components that also includes a brief description of the project environment and social impact, mitigating measurements, and management plans. Mostly, the government that needs to be maintained while opting for a construction project is implementing the EIA framework.
2.0 Assessment and Evaluation of EIA Process and Legal System of India
EIA was introduced in 1978 for the first time in India in regard to different river valley projects that further expanded its scope by including various other development projects. Currently, EIA has become mandatory for more than 30 project classes. This process is abided by the Environmental Protection Rule of 1986 that has warranted the imposition of some restrictions on the expansion, construction, and modernization of some specific projects without prior approval from the State, Central, and Union Territory level. EIAA or Environmental Impact Assessment Authority has been constituted under the “Environmental Protection Act ”, 1986 (Nomani, et al., 2019). The EIA process categorized the projects into two (A and B) based on their scale magnitude and impact on artificial and natural resources. The projects from A group require approval from the “Ministry of Environment and Forests” under Central Government, on the advice of EAC or Expert Appraisal Committee. It includes the expansion and construction of harbors ports, nuclear power airports, and primary metallurgical industries. While group B requires State EIAA depending on the advice of the State Expert Appraisal Committee. The Appraisal committee for EIA at the State and Central level determines the screening and scope of the projects and performs collective responsibility. It mainly consists of 5 parts, such as screening, project inclusion, scoping, public consultation, and appraisal. The draft has further been amended in 2020 that includes “ex post facto clearance.” This assessment, therefore, is going to discuss the Tidong Hydroelectric Power Project which was drafted for its initiation in 2012 (Yadav 2018). Being a power project of Himachal Pradesh of India, it had to focus on various things to ensure the stability of the land.
The EIA process is mainly used to evaluate the benefits or adverse impacts of the project on the environment. According to UNEP, the EIA can be used as a tool to identify the social, environmental, and economic impacts of any major construction project. It is difficult to analyze the potential impact of EIA in accordance with the environment and development. Though development comes second against environmental concerns, still, the environment cannot be sacrificed in an indiscriminate and relentless pursuit of development (Sarma, 2018). The EIA process influences the environment, society, economy, and geopolitics. While discussing the Tidong Hydroelectric Power Project is induced with a vast hydroelectric potential of 12,249.37 MW with an installed power of 20,415.62 at a 60% load factor. The EIA process tries to evaluate the changes that can be influential due to the project that includes hydrological flow regime, migration corridors barriers, impact on water quality, biodiversity loss, and greenhouse gas emission (Lataet al., 2017).
Figure 1: Ecological Location of the Project
(Source: Adb, 2012)
The hill areas are themselves very sensitive and prone to natural disasters, hence it has become important to evaluate the project details under the EIA process to reduce the negative impact on the environment. Due to its sensitivity, this project has undergone an EIA process that outlined some basic points of this project. The main aim of this project was to exploit the potential of the Tidong Khad. The estimated cost of this project is 135 Crore that will release at least 632.63 GWh energy benefits per annum. As the state is mainly dependent on gro-economy thus the government has focused intensely on whether this project is going to benefit or adverse the state economy and environment
The EIA report of the Tidong Hydroelectric Power Project describes it as one of the most significant hydroelectric projects in India.
This area consists of a “medley” of tribes with thousands of other plant and animal species. Here most people are Buddhists who talk in more than 60 dialects.Hence, the hydroelectric project has gone through direct screening under “national Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997”, “National Environmental Tribunal Act, 1995”, “National Green Tribunal Act, 2010”, “The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and amended in 1988”, and some other acts.
Figure 2: Forest Cover Map of Himachal
(Source: Adb, 2012)
NSL Renewable Power Private Limited that was scheduled to be completed within 5.5 years (Lata, and Dolma 2019) handled this project. It has maintained a proper drainage system. However, this project is not so green that it has influenced the environment in a negative manner. The unprecedented scale of land and forest use has attributed hydropower development to proliferation. In addition, it has been seen that two roads to connect this project with the mainland have been formed in a scientific manner that also faced protest from local panchayats. Almost 4815 trees have been damaged which is extremely dangerous for the hilly areas (Adb, 2012). Thus, the report also tried to give some useful recommendations for soil erosion and sustainability enhancement.
It seems the Tidong Hydroelectric Power Project includes various issues that include forest degradation and land issues.Hence, this project needed proper evaluation regarding the influence on the environment before starting the project. It should have included the IFC performance standard and overall health and safety measurements of the workers.
A proper method to collect data regarding the habitats, forests, drainage systems, and waste management can be included to have a better implication of the project.
Implementing a quadrant process along with EMMP and SMP to monitor the implications on a regular basis is very important to understand the way this project is going to impact society, the environment, and the economy (Adb, 2012). The project must focus on flood design as it is a very common environmental issue in this state. This will help the project to understand and verify their drainage system.
While planning the project it needs to implement a special focus on environmental baselines that in the case of Himachal Pradesh. The project especially needs to focus on land, ecological and noise management to reduce its negative impact on nature.
Furthermore, as the area has a significant amount of population of not only people but also plants and different animal species thus it needs to develop a blueprint of the area and observe whether it will hear any of these (Adb, 2012). Forest plays a major role in this part to prevent floods and earthquakes, thus it must focus on the way it can be protected.
The analysis shows that it is important to have a clear understanding of different aspects of any particular project. The EIA report helps to understand the way the project can influence the economy, environment, and society in the future. Hence, it is also important to focus on the EIA recommendation to develop a successful project. Tidong Hydroelectric Power Project is a significant project that was made up to enhance the power system of India. This project stands between a complex situation of necessity and ethics. However, this report has tried to provide a proper outline of the EIA and EIS report based on the project to understand its importance in other projects too.
Adb, 2012, TIDONG HYDROELECTRIC POWER PROJECT, Accessed on: 20.12.2021, Available At: https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/project-document/73176/46919-014-ind-eia-draft.pdf
Lata, R. and Dolma, K., 2019. Environmental assessment of hydropower development in Northwestern Indian Himalayan region.
Lata, R., Rishi, M.S., Herojeet, R. and Dolma, K., 2017. Environmental and social impact assessment: A study of hydroelectric power projects in Satluj Basin in District Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India. International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering, 10(2), pp.270-280.
Nomani, M.Z.M., Wani, M.R. and Tahreem, M., 2019. Impact of Judicial Doctrine and Geo Spatial Technologies in Refinement of Environmental Impact Assessment Laws and Policies in India. International Journal of Recent Technology & Engineering, 8(4), pp.8013-8016.
Sarma, J., 2018. Strengthening Environmental Assessment Process of Projects in India.
Yadav, D.V., 2018. Environmental Impact assessment: a critique on Indian law and practices. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, 5(1), pp.01-05.