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Screening for EIA in India: Enhancing effectiveness through ecological carrying capacity approach

Rajaram, T., Das, Ashutosh
Journal of environmental management 2011 v.92 no.1 pp. 140-148
European Union, carrying capacity, developing countries, economic policy, environmental assessment, environmental control systems, environmental protection, management systems, poverty, screening, India
Developing countries across the world have embraced the policy of high economic growth as a means to reduce poverty. This economic growth largely based on industrial output is fast degrading the ecosystems, jeopardizing their long term sustainability. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has long been recognized as a tool which can help in protecting the ecosystems and aid sustainable development. The Screening guidelines for EIA reflect the level of commitment the nation displays towards tightening its environmental protection system. The paper analyses the screening process for EIA in India and dissects the rationale behind the exclusions and thresholds set in the screening process. The screening process in India is compared with that of the European Union with the aim of understanding the extent of deviations from a screening approach in the context of better economic development. It is found that the Indian system excludes many activities from the purview of screening itself when compared to the EU. The constraints responsible for these exclusions are discussed and the shortcomings of the current command and control system of environmental management in India are also explained. It is suggested that an ecosystem carrying capacity based management system can provide significant inputs to enhance the effectiveness of EIA process from screening to monitoring.