2. Legal Provisions for Public Participation in EIA in India
2.1. Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
2.2. Biological Diversity Act, 2002
3. Study of Scientific Literature
3.1. Public Participation in EIA
3.2. BIA and Biodiversity Conservation
4.1. Study of Minutes of Public Hearings
4.2. Study of EIA Reports
4.3. Generation of Recommendations
5.1. Public Hearings
5.2. EIA Reports
6. Discussion and Recommendations
6.1. Institutional Opportunity and Conducive Environment for Participation
6.2. Interest to Participate
- Raising awareness among people—efforts should be made to bring back the lost connection between people with nature. People should be reminded of existing biodiversity, benefits obtained from it, and their responsibility in protecting nature.
- Providing incentive—rural people are mostly poor and attending public hearings means losing a day’s income. Hence, they may be compensated by non-monetary incentives, like environment-friendly products or nutritious food items.
- People should feel their opinion has value and can make difference . The decision-making body should include in the meeting minutes that they are satisfied with the way the project proponent addressed the issues raised in public hearings. A place should be designated at a local level where people can register their grievances regarding the fulfilment of commitment by the project proponent.
6.3. Capacity Building of Local People
- Matrix for determining biodiversity impact
- Suggestive list of components for CER
6.4. Support of Clearance Process
- Mandatory requirements in EIA
- Details of local organizations and persons consulted during the EIA study and their opinion should be mentioned.
- Location-specific information on biodiversity-rich areas and habitats should be provided.
- The impact statement should not only talk about endangered species, but include common species and their habitats.
- Impact on bioresources that are used by people and other ecosystem services to be mentioned.
- Authority should peruse the issues raised in public hearings—project proponent should submit a synopsis of how the issues raised in public hearings have been addressed. The decision-making body should include in the meeting minutes that they are satisfied with the way the project proponent had addressed the issues.
- Mechanism for monitoring of implementation—there may be a committee at a local level consisting of members from the local government, the Biodiversity Management Committee (which contains representatives from the local community), and the project proponent who should verify the implementation of commitments and report to the authority.
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|Baseline Data||Impact Assessment||Mitigation Measures|
|Name of species in the study area (10 km around the project location)||Location-specific information on biodiversity richness/|
|Dependence of people on biodiversity||Impact type||Specific area and amount of possible impact||Effect on bio-resources used by people||Mitigation measures other than tree plantation (in addition to mandatory pollution control measures)||Green belt development within the project site||Biodiversity enhancement activity proposed outside the project area.|
|Plantation map||Name and number of tree species for plantation||Plantation schedule (with year-wise breakup of plantation and fund allocation for the purpose)|
In two projects (10%) vegetation composition analysis (frequency, abundance, and density) was also done.
The only occurrence of protected forest within the study area was mentioned.
|If the list of agricultural crops & medicinal plants is not counted, then only one project (5%) mentioned social forestry and the dependence of people on bioresources like wood and non-timber forest products.||All projects predicted insignificant impact.|
In 7 projects (35%), a general statement on the possibility of an impact on biodiversity from particulate air pollution due to industrial emission and transport was mentioned.
|Absent||Absent||Absent||Absence of complete plantation map. |
In 6 reports (30%), green belt area was shown within project area but without scale and location of the species-specific plantation.
|Total number of trees to be planted was mentioned in 18 projects (90%).|
A list of tree species was given in 19 projects (95%).
The number for each species was given in 6 projects (30%).
|Total fund allocation was provided in only12 projects (60%). Among them, the year-wise breakup was given in one project (5%).||In 11 projects (55%), tree plantation outside the project area was included under CER activities. But those proposals did not contain specifics of location, area, number, and species name for plantation.|
|Sl No||Pertinent Issues||Source/Reference||Recommendation for Implementation|
|1.||Public participation should be institutionalized||||Based on the scale and pollution potential, a section of proposed activities statutorily require EIA and public consultation. Considering logistic and time constraint, it is difficult to it extends to the rest which also causes a cumulative adverse impact. Forming a regional plan containing ‘no conversion green zones’ through public consultation may be a solution.|
|2.||Local dialect should be accepted in the meeting||||Local dialect should continue to be used both by the project proponent/consultant and people.|
|3.||A public hearing should be conducted near the project site as it would be easier for villagers to attend.||The issue was raised in the public hearings.||The public hearing is to be conducted in a convenient place near the project site easily accessible to the public.|
|4.||Information should be given to participating stakeholders on time (a month before) to enable them to participate effectively.||||Apart from the advertisement in two newspaper a month before the hearing (as presently done), publicity may be done through-|
i. putting posters in strategic public places and near project sites.
ii. making loudspeaker announcements in the nearby areas 7 days before the hearing.
|5.||Wide publicity of hearing has to be undertaken.||The issue was raised in the public hearings.|
|6.||When decisions are highly technical, this may involve educating participants, developing the knowledge and confidence that is necessary for them to meaningfully engage in the process||||Apart from distribution of simplified information among the public, other steps which may help are-|
i. some local organization like Biodiversity Management Committee may take initiative in understanding impact and become a knowledge exchange center
ii. some knowledgeable persons, NGOs may be invited to the hearing
|7.||Stakeholder participation should be considered right from the outset, from concept development and planning, through implementation, to monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.||||In addition to public consultation after preparation of draft EIA, the scope of public participation may be expanded by-|
i. making it mandatory to consult people who are likely to affect during the preparation of EIA
ii. providing a mechanism for people to submit grievances regarding the implementation
|8.||Unless people are convinced that participation will involve some real influence over decision making, the public will be reluctant to participate||||In the notice board of local government offices, the following may be exhibited-|
i. copy of signed minutes of the public hearing
ii. submission of project proponent to the authority addressing the issues raised in public hearing and minutes of the relevant meeting of the authority.
|9.||The public can act as a manipulator or as a manipulation detector. Also, mobilized groups may monopolize public response.||||Facilitating wide participation and making people understand that their own benefit is attached to the protection of the environment.|
|10.||Stakeholder analysis needs to be done||||Various stakeholders who may be affected should be identified and talked to during the EIA study. This is particularly relevant for the vulnerable section of the population.|
|Biodiversity Attributes||Direct Drivers||Indirect Drivers|
|Land Character Change/|
Extraction of Species/
|Introduction of Species (Exotic Species/Invasive Alien Species/Genetically Modified Plant)||Other Project Activity which May Have Impact||Increased Access to Human Beings||Socio-Economic (e.g., Chance of Future Development and Land-Use Change in Future)||Cultural (e.g., Loss of Love and Reverence for Nature)|
|Concerning life-forms||Habitat loss|
|Disturbance to normal life activities, privacy|
|Number of species to decrease (species diversity)|
|Depletion of resources used by life forms|
|Lifecycle disturbance (migratory pathway, egg-laying spaces)|
|Disturbance to the food chain|
|Hazards to life-forms (plastic pollution, formation of deep wells in which animals may fall)|
|Resilience||Loss of functional diversity and loss of indigenous species|
|Loss of mobile link species (birds, small mammals)|
|Fragmentation of habitat|
|Ecosystem services||Source of water/food|
|Source of articles of use|
|Source of livelihood (especially of vulnerable section)|
|Source of other ecosystem services (pest control, pollination, prevention of soil erosion, flood control)|
|Landscape/sacred grove/heritage site|
|People’s attitude||Interest of people to save the biodiversity (including economic interest)|
|Sl. No.||Concept||Source/Reference||Ways of Implementation|
|1.||Creating wild patches (which will work as stepping stones)||[23,26]||i. Conversion of some agricultural land/wastelands into natural ecosystems such as wild patches.|
ii. Small area of government land/public land where local indigenous plants may be planted.
In these patches, a variety of indigenous trees/shrubs would be planted and kept undisturbed. These will not only serve as local repositories of biodiversity but also a habitat for organisms (e.g., beehives), and subsequently become a source of ecosystem services.
|2.||Maintaining wild patch and protection of natural habitat||[27,28]||i. Protection of existing wild patches which are acting as important habitat (including waterbodies visited by migratory birds).|
ii. Protection of sacred grooves.
|3.||Connecting links||[23,29]||Plantation along roads and irrigation canals. Apart from avenue trees, fruit-bearing trees may also be planted which may serve as a food source (option value) at times of crisis.|
|4.||Increase heterogeneity of the landscape||[23,26]||i. Creation of waterbodies.|
ii. Creation of patches of trees among agricultural fields.
|5.||Keystone species||||Plantation of trees like Ficus bengalensis, Ficus religiosa.|
|6.||Plantation of indigenous trees and conservation of locally cultivated varieties||[30,39]||i. Plantation of indigenous trees/shrubs in common land and along roads.|
ii. During EIA study, a list of local flora is prepared. Tree species may be selected from this list for plantation within the premises (green belt).
iii. Providing an incentive for the cultivation of traditional varieties of crops.
|7.||Support for mobile link species||||Birds are important seed dispersers. In order to support them, fruit-bearing trees like Mimusops elengi, Ficus religiosa, Syzygium cumini, Azadirachta indica may to be planted.|
|8.||The control of invasive species||||Executing eradication programs for invasive species like Parthenium hysterophorus.|
|9.||Waste management and recycling of nutrients||[24,40]||i. Plastic waste management (so those plastic items are not consumed by animals)|
ii. Composting facilities to be developed and compost manure to be put in the field for nutrient recycling
|10.||Increase the interest of local people to protect biodiversity||||People will most likely protect biodiversity if they feel that they are being benefitted from it. Through awareness campaigns, locally existing biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by it should be explained to people with examples.|
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