If we talk about the environment, which is anything that surrounds us is our environment, and if we talk in light of Pakistan Protect Act 1997, further amended in 2012: all layers of environment, organic and inorganic material, road buildings and structures, all social and economic conditions affecting life and their relationships. So keeping in mind the broad term of environment, it provides us everything for our survival but if any of the elements is disturbed it affects us badly.

Back in the 17th century, when it was the start of the industrial revolution, coal was mainly the major fuel that was used in the industry. No one knows the consequences of overexploitation of coal extraction and overuse until the event of London Smog 1962 took place. After that regulations of the environment come into consideration.

As the environmental degradation was at its peak, the US takes a step in the form of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1970. This act covers degraded surface and subsurface water, rise in air pollution and threats to public health, and improper waste management. If we look at the situation of Pakistan laws regarding conservation of environment were already there but there was no implementation, which includes Forest Act 1927 and Factories act 1937, after Pakistan Environmental Protection ordinance 1983 later Pakistan Environmental Protection 1997 was formed which aim to address environmental issues. PEPO made it mandatory for all stakeholders to conduct EIA before the construction of any project.

Then comes a question, what is EIA, and what is the main purpose of this? According to PEPA 1997, EIA is a comprehensive environmental study comprising of a collection of data, predict its qualitative and quantitative impacts, comparison of its alternatives, preventive measures, and compensatory measures, and plan to restore the environment of the area. 

The EIA report is made under IEE/EIA regulations 2000 and submitted to the relevant provincial EPA. EPA reviews the report and analyzes its impacts on the environment as well as on society. In parallel to the desk study, an official from the Agency visit the exact project site and confirms the compliance of the EIA submitted to EPA. EPA after confirmation of compliance check either it is fulfilling all legal requirements or not gives go ahead, by providing the Construction phase NOC (No Objection Certificate) and the proponent can start construction of the project. On the other hand, if the proponent is partially complying with the legal requirements proponent is requested to furnish the evidence and comply with the regulations and start construction of the project. Further, the proponent is requested to conduct a Public hearing of the project, in which local media and people are invited to share their concerns regarding the project.

After the construction phase, the proponent complies with the environmental management plan of the construction phase report and submits it to EPA again to obtain Operational phase NOC. EPA again recheck all requirement of the EMP and after analysis, NOC is issued to the proponent for the operational phase. This is the whole process of the EIA cycle in Pakistan.    

About the Author: Meraj Ahsan Qureshi is a young motivated EHS official, who keeps an eye on environment health and safety issues. He aware the people and devises solutions for the problems.

Edited By: Amina Shahzadi