Environment Impact Assessment or EIA can be defined as the study to predict the effect of a proposed activity/project on the environment.
A decision making tool,
EIA compares various alternatives for a project and seeks to identify the one which represents the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits.
EIA systematically examines both beneficial and adverse consequences of the project and ensures that these effects are taken into account during project design.
It helps to identify possible environmental effects of the proposed project, proposes measures to mitigate adverse effects and predicts whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects, even after the mitigation is implemented.
By considering the environmental effects of the project and their mitigation early in the project planning cycle, environmental assessment has many benefits, such as protection of environment, optimum utilisation of resources and saving of time and cost of the project.
Properly conducted EIA also lessens conflicts by promoting community participation, informing decision makers, and helping lay the base for environmentally sound projects.
Benefits of integrating EIA have been observed in all stages of a project, from exploration and planning, through construction, operations, decommissioning, and beyond site closure.