Environmental impact assessment system and process: A study on policy and legal instruments in Nepal
An efficient system of decision making for sustainable socioeconomic development, with an effective environmental management of the sources of environmental impact and effects of such impacts, need to be put in place in order to implement the government policy of environmental protection and safety at the regional level. To obtain such kind of results; Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tool has been followed by the developing countries enacting environmental policies or judicial system to introduce regulatory framework in EIA system and procedures. Sustainable development is the result of carefully integrating environmental, economic and social needs in the policy level to achieve both an increased standard of living in the short term, and a net gain or equilibrium among human, natural and economic resources to support future generations. This study is based on the review of the EIA system and process, policy, guidelines and legal instruments and consultation with concerned stakeholders by emphasizing the EIA reports of 100 different projects from 12 different developmental sectors in Nepal. Nepal has taken an initiative to integrate environmental aspects in the national policy and development plan conducting EIA of major development projects since 1980 - 1996. Enforcement of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), 1996, and the Environmental Protection Regulation (EPR), 1997, formally implemented EIA system with participatory monitoring. In Nepal, EIA has been conducted for 100 development projects up to 2010. Among these, the highest (25%) is in the hydropower sector and the lowest (3%) is in each of the hotel and tourism development, irrigation and apartment buildings, respectively. It has been found that the implementation of mitigation measures, monitoring and auditing of EIAs, limits only (20%) on the large scale donor supported projects. The EIA system only limits screening, scoping and ToR, prediction and assessment and monitoring of impacts. However, there is no policy for EIS as well as post evaluation mechanism which could show some implications and constraints in the EIA system for an effective EIA system as in the international level.
Key words: EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), EPA (Environmental Protection Act) EPR (Environmental Protection Regulation), EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), EIA system and process.