The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure was first introduced in the USA in the late 1960s. Since then it has been accepted as a fair means of assessing environmental impacts of a project or activity as well as planning mitigation measures to contain those impacts. Based on the results of an EIA, policymakers can decide whether or not to proceed with a project. They do not have to adhere to a preset environmental outcome; rather, they require to consider environmental values in their decisions and to defend those decisions after considering thorough environmental studies and public comments on the possible impacts. They can use EIA as a management tool to ensure the optimal use of natural resources for sustainable development.
India adopted EIA in 1994, when an EIA notification was passed, which made environmental clearance mandatory for about 29 polluting activities. Several amendments were made to this notification, and later in 2006 a new notification was passed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) with the intention of making the Indian EIA process more efficient. The new notification was a great endeavour, but the entire focus remained on the process prior to project implementation, that is, the pre-decision stage. Least has been done to improve the implementation and follow-up activities so central to the success of an EIA process.