Question #1. Examine the need for Environmental Impact Assessment and its process in India. Also discuss the main issues of recent EIA notification. (150 words)
(Examiner will pay special attention to the candidate's grasp of his/her material, its relevance to the subject chosen, and to his/ her ability to think constructively and to present his/her ideas concisely, logically and effectively).
Question #1. Examine the need for Environmental Impact Assessment and its process in India. Also discuss the main issues of recent EIA notification.
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is a formal process used to predict the environmental consequences of any development project. Environment Impact assessment in India is statutory backed by the Environment Protection Act in 1986, which contains various provisions on EIA methodology and process. Rationale behind EIA looks into various problems, conflicts and natural resource constraints which may not only affect the viability of a project but also predict if a project might harm to the people, their land, livelihoods and environment. Once these potential harmful impacts are predicted, the EIA process identifies the measures to minimize those impacts. Thus, the objective of the EIA is to: Identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to taking a decision on its implementation.
Mitigation of harmful impacts and maximizes the beneficial effects: Once the assessment is complete, the EIA findings are communicated to all stakeholders viz. developers, investors, regulators, planners, politicians, affected communities etc. On the basis of the conclusion of EIA process, the government can decide if a project should be given environment clearance or not. The developers and investors can also shape the project in such a way that its harms can be mitigated and benefits can be maximized.
The EIA process finds its origin from United States where due to huge public pressure; the government enacted National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1970s. The role of EIA process was formally recognized at the Earth Summit in Rio Conference in 1992 in which the Rio declaration stated that EIA shall be taken as national instrument for proposed projects which might adversely impact the environment.
The EIA Process in India:
There is an elaborate EIA process involving many steps such as Screening, Preliminary Assessment, Scoping, Main including public hearing, appraisal etc. First of all, the developer has to prepare an EIA report with the help of an environment consultant. On the basis of such report, the EIA may be either comprehensive EIA or Rapid EIA. Basically, EIA would try to answer the following questions:
Thus, the EIA becomes a cycle of asking questions, and further questions until workable solutions are reached. During this process, the key impacts on environment such as changes in air quality, noise levels, impacts on wild life, impact on biodiversity, impact on local communities, changes in settlement patterns, changes in employment stats, changes in water consumption and availability etc. are formally identified. The answers of the questions make the so called “prediction” in the EIA process. The prediction scientifically characterises the impacts quantitatively as well as qualitatively.
We note here that prediction techniques involve some degree of uncertainty. Prediction is followed by evaluation. This part evaluates the predicted adverse impacts and determines if they can be significantly mitigated. The next step is mitigation in which the study team would analyse the wide range of measures for mitigation of adverse impacts. Such measure may include changing the project site, operating methods, raw materials, disposal methods and routes, engineering designs, waste treatment, phased implementation, landscaping, training, social service etc.
The compensation for damaged resources, affected persons etc. are also offered here. Overall, the mitigation costs are identified and quantified. This part also involves the Cost benefit analysis of the project in terms of mitigation costs. Once mitigation measures and costs are identified, the next part is documentation, which is called EIA report. This report has executive summary of the project, a description of the proposed development, major environment issues, impacts on environment, prediction, mitigation measures and options etc. along with gaps and uncertainties in the information; and summary of the EIA process for general public.
Question #2. Discuss the concept of palaeomagnetism and geomagnetism. Elucidate the role of palaeomagnetism in supporting Sea Floor Spreading theory propounded by Harry Hess.
Palaeomagnetism and Geomagnetism are the two importance concept which defines magnetic properties inhibited by the earth. Apart from Venus every planet in our solar system possesses magnetism. Palaeomagnetism is the study of the record of the Earth’s magnetic field in rocks, sediment, or archeological materials. It is important for studying various processes which has helped in formation of earth’s crust and evolution of landforms over it. Geomagnetism is the study of the dynamics of the Earth’s magnetic field, which is produced in the inner core. The Earth’s magnetic field is predominantly a geo-axial dipole, with north and south magnetic poles located near the geographic poles that undergo periodic reversals and excursions.
Palaeomagnetism has considerably helped in defining sea-floor spreading theory which explains the formation of ocean basins and continents around the globe.
Sea-floor spreading theory and role of Palaeomagnetism and geomagnetism in elaborating it
Role of Palaeomagnetism and geomagnetism
Palaeomagnetism and geomagnetism were two dominant and explained concepts which provided experimental data related to magnetic anomalies of rocks found across the globe to prove and support the theory. Parallelism in magnetic anomalies on either side of the mid-oceanic ridge and in the time sequence of palaeomagnetic epoch were two crucial evidences which proved the sea floor spreading theory. Sea-floor spreading theory successfully proves the movement of tectonic plates on asthenospheres propounded in plate tectonic theory and drifting of continents or widening of ocean-floor as envisaged in continental drift theory.
Note: You have to write your answers on an A4 size sheet leaving margins on both sides based on UPSC pattern. Mention Your Name on 1st page and Page Number on each page. After writing the answer, Click pictures of each page of the answer sheet and upload them altogether (in JPG/JPEG/PNG format) in the comment section of the same question.