Environmental Assessment (EA) studies are mandatory now a day before the start of any project activity in private, public or government sector that would involve land acquisition, civil or mechanical construction and operation and is anticipated to have minor or/and major impacts on any segment of physical, ecological or socio-economic environment in its surroundings. The EA reports in all developed and developing countries may be called by different names and abbreviations but all these mainly emphasize on environmental investigations along with other specific targets if any. In Pakistan, the EA reports required by the EPA are of two types namely Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and Environmental impact Assessment (EIA). Donor Agencies like World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Overseas Private Investors Corporation (OPIC) usually ask for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) with broader prospect and detailed surveys on the same parameters as mentioned in Pak-EPA format for IEE or EIA.
All kinds of environmental assessment reports more or less involve review of legislative frame work, details of all construction and operational activities, any alternatives to be considered, resettlement issues, existing environmental conditions, baseline environmental monitoring for various physical and ecological parameters, consultations with general public and other stakeholders, anticipated positive and negative environmental impacts of the proposed project, recommended mitigation measures, institutional arrangements, future plans and strategies for environmental management and monitoring during construction and operational phases so that project would remain environment friendly and socially sound along with final conclusions and recommendations.
A brief description of different types of EA Studies which we conduct regularly is given hereunder:
i) Initial Environmental Examination (IEE)
An IEE is required for projects falling in Schedule B of the “Policy and Procedures for the filling, review and approval of Environmental Assessments.” According to Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA)-1997, “Initial Environmental Examination” means a preliminary environmental review of the reasonably foreseeable qualitative and quantitative impacts on the environment of a proposed project to determine whether it is likely to cause an adverse environmental impact for requiring preparation of an environmental impact assessment.
An IEE is a relatively simple document that systematically considers all the relatively likely impacts arising from a proposal, identifies which impacts need further consideration and for those impacts provides mitigation measures which reduce the impacts to an acceptable level. Where the IEE reveals more significant impacts, the Responsible Authority in conjunction with EPA will determine the need of an EIA.
An IEE should be undertaken at the pre-feasibility, or at the latest of the beginning of the feasibility stage. The KEC has an excellent track record for the completion of IEE projects
ii) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
An EIA is required for projects falling in Schedule A of the “Policy and procedures for the filling, review and approval of Environmental Assessments.” According to the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA)-1997, an EIA is required where the project is likely to cause an adverse environmental effect. The EIA is filed with the relevant EPA (Provincial/Federal) for review and approval prior to project construction.
An EIA is a relatively detailed document and particularly deals in significant environmental impacts. Unlike IEE, it also involves public hearing before the final decision regarding the NOC is made is made by the EPA.
An EIA should be carried out during the feasibility stage.
iii) Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA)
Environmental Impact Assessment Report is an essential requirement of donor agencies/funding institutions before financing for the subject project. In this regard, various donor agencies have developed their own documents and format for facilitating the successful completion of environmental assessment reports by the client. Equator principles are primarily followed while conducting such studies. Advisors and consultants of these agencies review the prepared document independently to check quality and quantity of its contents before taking any further action. Our team members have participated in many WB, ADB, IFC and OPIC funded projects within Pakistan and in abroad. Unlike local EIA required by the Pak-EPA, the projects of financing institutions do not involve public hearing after report submission/before the sanction of loan.