What is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?

  1. Introduction to the EIA Notification, 2006
  2. Obtaining EC for new TPPs
  3. Obtaining EC for Existing Projects (Expansion/Modernization/Change of Product Mix)
  4. Monitoring of TPPs (Post EC)
  5. Transferability of EC

1. Introduction to the EIA Notification, 2006

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is now mandatory under the EPA for 39 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs.50 crores and above.

The EIA Notification makes prior Environmental Clearance (EC) compulsory for

  • All new projects and activities
  • Expansion/modernization of existing projects
  • Activities listed in the Schedule to the Notification

TPPs are listed as item 1(d) under the Schedule to the Notification.

  • When should EC be obtained by a TPP?
  1. Before setting up of a new plant
  2. Before expansion or modernisation an existing plant
  3. For changes in the product mix of an existing plan
  • Which Authorities can issue EC?
  1. Ministry of Environment & Forests [MoEF]
  2. State Environment Impact Assessment Authority [SEIAA]

The EIA Notification calls these two authorities as Regulatory Authorities. For bigger projects, which fall under Category A in the Schedule, the MoEF issues the EC. For smaller projects- Category B, the SEIAA- a Central Government authority operating in each state, issues the clearance.


The SEIAA is a Central Government Authority that is constituted by the State Government but acts on behalf and reports to the MoEF.


SEIAA has 3 members:

  1. Member-Secretary – a serving officer of the respective State Government/ Union territory, who is familiar with environmental laws
  2. Chairperson – an expert in EIA process with a term of 3 years
  3. Non-officio Member - an expert in EIA process with a term of 3 years

If an SEIAA has not been constituted in a state, then all projects requiring an EC will be considered by the MoEF.

All decisions of the SEIAA should be taken in a meeting and must, as far as possible be, unanimous. If a majority decision is taken, then the details of the opinions for and against it should be clearly recorded and copy of the minutes sent to the MoEF.


       EC issuing Authority/Activity





Coal/lignite/naphtha/gas based power generation 

>500 MW

<500 MW

Power generation using Pet coke diesel and all other fuels including refinery residual oil waste, except biomass

>50 MW

5 MW- 49 MW

Power generation using Biomass or non-hazardous municipal solid waste as fuel

>20 MW

16 MW – 19 MW

Who recommends issue of EC for a project to the Authorities?

  1. Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)
  2. State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC)

The MoEF will issue EC, for projects being evaluated by it, based on the recommendations of the EAC. Likewise, the SEIAA will issue EC based on the recommendations of the SEAC. 


The SEAC is constituted by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government. If the SEAC has not been constituted in a state, then all Category B projects requiring an EC will be considered by the MoEF.


The EAC & SEAC can have up to 15 members, who should be experts or experienced professionals in the following fields:

  • Environmental Quality
  • Different Sectors in Project Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Process
  • Risk Assessment
  • Floral and faunal management (Life Science expert)
  • Forestry and Wildlife
  • Environmental Economics (The expert should have experience in project appraisal)

The Chairperson should be an outstanding and experienced environmental policy expert or expert in management or public administration with wide experience in the relevant development sector.

Qualifications for Experienced Professionals:

The person should have at least

  1. 5 years of formal University training in the concerned discipline leading to a MA/MSc Degree, or
  2. 4 years formal training in a professional training course together with prescribed practical training in the field leading to a B.Tech/B.E./B.Arch. Degree, in case of Engineering/Technology/Architecture disciplines, or
  3. 5 years of formal University training and prescribed practical training put together, in the case of any other professional degree (e.g. Law), or
  4. Prescribed apprenticeship/articleship and pass examinations conducted by the concerned professional association (e.g. Chartered Accountancy),or
  5. A University degree, followed by 2 years of formal training in a University or Service Academy (e.g. MBA/IAS/IFS).

In selecting Experts / Experienced Professionals, experience gained by them in their respective fields will be taken note of.

Qualifications for Experts:

A professional fulfilling the above eligibility criteria with:

  1. At least 15 years of relevant experience in the field, or
  2. An advanced degree (e.g. PhD) in a concerned field and at least 10 years of relevant experience

The Expert has to be less than 70 years of age. However, in the event of the non-availability of experts in a given field, the maximum age of a member of the Expert Appraisal Committee can be 75 years.

  • Each member, including the Chairperson, has a maximum tenure of 2 terms of 3 years each.
  • Monthly Meetings should be held.
  • Agenda and minutes to be noted.
  • Minutes of the Meetings are to be finalised in 5 working days and uploaded on the MoEF website

2. Obtaining EC for New TPPs

The EC Process:

Application submission by Project Proponent/Applicant to MoEF/SEIAA

  • Issuance of Terms of Reference by MoEF/ SEIAA
  • Submission of EIA by Project Proponent/Applicant& Conduct of Public Consultation by State Pollution Control Board (SPCB)
  • Issuance of EC / Rejection of Application by MoEF/SEIAA

1. Application submission by Project Proponent to MoEF/SEIAA

  • Project Proponent/Applicant is to make an application for EC only after the prospective site is identified. This applicationis to be made in Form 1(Form 1 format)and a copy of the project’s Pre-Feasibility Report,is to be submitted,based on the proposed plant’s capacity, to the MoEF or SEIAA. Form 1 includes the ToR proposed by the Project Proponent
  • Prior to obtaining an EC, the Project Proponent, also known as the Applicant, is not allowed to commence any activity at the site, except cleaning and fencing or making temporary shelterswith basic amenities for labour.
  • At this stage, the Application made to the SEIAA will further be categorised as Category B1 & B2 by the Authority*. This process is called Screening.
  • B2 projects do not require an EIA.

*The MoEF issues a notification from time to time on the classification of projects as B1 and B2. Currently, all coal, lignite, naphtha & gas-based thermal power plants with a capacity over 5 MWare classified as B1 and require an EIA.

2. Issuance of Terms of Reference by MoEF/ SEIAA:

Mandated Time Frame -60 days

  1. Upon receipt of the application, the SEIAA/MoEF will check if all the required documents have been submitted.
  2. If Additional Details are required, the Project Proponent/Applicant will be required to submit them.
  3. On acceptance of the Application, the MoEF/SEIAA will invite the Project Proponent/Applicant for a meeting with the EAC/ SEAC where this project will be evaluated.
  4. At the meeting, the ToR addressing all environmental concerns for conducting EIA studies will be issued by the MoEF/ SEIAA. This process is called Scoping.


If the EAC/ SEAC is of the opinion, during evaluation of the Application, that a visit to the site by its members is necessary to draw up the ToR(Contents of a ToR), the site-visit will be undertaken and ToR issued subsequently. For this, the MoEF/SEIAA should provide a notice of 7 days to the Project Proponent/Applicant, who should provide requisite facilities to carry out the inspection.

The ToR is determined based on the

  • Form 1
  • A ToR proposed by the Project Proponent/Applicant
  • Site visit by a sub-group of EAC or SEAC (if conducted)
  • Other information that may be available with the EAC/SEAC.

The ToR should be conveyed to the Project Proponent/Applicant by the EAC/SEAC within 60 days of receipt of Form 1. If not, the ToR as proposed by the Project Proponent/Applicant will be considered as the approved ToR for EIA purposes.

The approved ToR should be displayed on the website of the MoEF and the concerned SEIAA. The ToR for plants situated along the coast will contain details of additional studies required.

The Application can be rejected at this stage itself by the MoEF/ SEIAA based on the recommendation of the EAC/SEAC. If so, this decision, along with reasons for the rejection, should be communicated to the Project Proponent/Applicant in writing within 60 days of receipt of application

3. Submission of EIA by Project Proponent/Applicant& Conduct of Public Consultation by State Pollution Control Board: Mandated Time Frame- 45 days

  1. After obtaining the ToR, an accredited consultant is engaged to conduct the EIA studies by the Project Proponent/Applicant and prepare a Draft EIA Report. (This draft is likely to take a minimum of 3 months as it is based on the number of seasons specified, in the ToR, for conducting the studies.)
  2. The Draft EIA Report is to be submitted to the MoEF/SEIAA by the Project Proponent/Applicant. Simultaneously a request to the SPCB is to be submitted to conduct the Public Consultation by the Project Proponent/Applicant.
  3. The Public Consultation consists of two parts:
  1. A Public Hearing at the site or in its close proximity to ascertain concerns of locally affected persons
  2. Written Responses obtained from concerned persons having a plausible stake in the socio- environmental aspects of the project or the activity. The MoEF/SEIAA and the State Pollution Control Boards should invite responses in writing about the project.

    The Public Consultation has to be conducted and the Public Hearing Report- consisting of the summary of the hearing proceedings, statement of issues raised by the public and the comments of the applicant, video recording of the meeting and the received Written Responses- is to be submitted by the SPCB to the MoEF/SEIAA, within 45 days of receiving a request from the Project Proponent/Applicant.

    For more details, refer to Participate Effectively InThe Public Consultation Process

4. Issuance of EC/Rejection of Application by MoEF/SEIAA: Mandated Time Frame - 135 days

  1. The Project Proponent/Applicant should address the socio - environmental concerns expressed during the public consultation process and make appropriate changes in the Draft EIA Report. The revised document is called the Final EIA Report.
  2. The Final EIA Report is to be submitted to the MoEF/SEIAA for appraisal. (Alternatively, the Project Proponent/Applicant can submit a Supplementary Report addressing all the concerns expressed during the public consultation. This and the Draft EIA make up the Final EIA.)

      The Project Proponent will submit the following to the MoEF/SEIAA:

  • Final EIA Report [20 hard copies, 1 soft copy]
  • Copies of Final Layout Plan [20 copies]
  • Project Feasibility Report (1 copy)

      The proponent can also submit a copy of the Videotape or CD of Public Hearing Proceedings (1 copy)

  1. Within 30 days of receiving these documents, the MoEF should scrutinise them for adherence to the conditions mentioned in the ToR, and send, electronically or otherwise, an observation report to the EAC/SEAC, including any inadequacies noted. Along with it, a copy of the Final EIA Report, Public Consultation Report & Form I should be attached. The scheduled date of the EAC/SEAC meeting for considering the proposal is to be mentioned.
  2. A letter to the Project Proponent to attend the meeting and to furnish clarifications, if necessary, about the project, either in person or through an authorized representative is to be sent by the MoEF/SEIAA. The Project Proponent should be informed at least 15 days in advance about the EAC/SEAC meeting.
  3. The EAC/SEAC is to complete the appraisal of the Application within 60 days of receiving the requisite documents.  If the EAC/SEAC recommends issue of EC, then the minutes should clearly list out the specific environmental safeguards and conditions. If a rejection of the application has been recommended, reasons for the same should be stated.
  4. The minutes of the EAC/SEAC meeting should be finalized in 5 working days and displayed in the MoEF/SEIAA website
  5. The MoEF/SEIAA should inform the Project Proponent of the status of EC issue or rejection of application - within 45 days of receiving the information from the EAC/SEAC.

After this time, the recommendations of the EAC/SEAC on granting or refusing EC for the project become public documents. Thus, if the decision of the MoEF/SEIAA has not been communicated to the Project Proponent within the timeframe mentioned in Point 7, the Proponent can proceed as if the EC has been granted or denied based on the final recommendations of the EAC/SEAC.

Reconsideration of EC decision: 135 days

The MoEF/SEIAA will normally accept the recommendations of the EAC/SEAC. In case of disagreement with the recommendations, the MoEF/SEIAA, stating its reasons for non-acceptance, may request a reconsideration of EAC/SEAC decision. The request is to be sent within 45 days of receiving the recommendations.

Simultaneously, an intimation of this decision should be conveyed to the Project Proponent.

The EAC/SEAC has to consider the observations of the MoEF/SEIAA and furnish its views within 60 days.

The MoEF/SEIAA should consider the views of the EAC/SEAC and decide on EC issuance. This decision of the MoEF/SEIAA is final, and should be conveyed to the Project Proponent within the next 30 days.

Validity of EC

The validity of an EC for a TPP is for 5 years from the date the EC is granted till the start of production operations.

For renewing the EC, an application is to be made to the MoEF/SEIAA within the validity period, together with an updated Form I. The MoEF/SEIAA can consult the EAC/SEAC as required.

Cancellation of EC

If the Project Proponent has been found to deliberately conceal information or has submitted false or misleading information to obtain the EC and the project will have adverse or negative environmental or socio-economic impacts, the EC may be cancelled. The decision will be made by the MoEF/SEIAA after giving a personal hearing to the Project Proponent and following the principles of natural justice.

3. Process of obtaining an EC for Existing Plants (Expansion/Modernization/Change of Product Mix)

1.A fresh Form 1 has to be submitted for all applications seeking prior EC for

  • Expansion of plant
  • Modernisation of an existing plant with increase in production capacity beyond the threshold mentioned in the Schedule to the EIA Notification.*
  • Change in product mix for existing plant

The applications should be submitted to the SEIAA/MoEF based on the extent of expansion.

2. Applications to be considered by the EAC/SEAC in 60 days.

3. EAC/SEAC to decide on due diligence necessary, including preparation of EIA and Public Consultation. Application will be appraised accordingly for grant of EC.

*The threshold for TPPs, for which the EC is to be issued by the SEIAA, is 500 MW. So, if the capacity of a 300 MW plant after modernisation will be over 500MW, it will require a prior environmental clearance involving all stages of the EIA process from the MoEF).

4. Post Environmental Clearance Monitoring

The Project Proponent has to submit half-yearly Compliance Reports, to the terms and conditions stipulated in the EC, in hard and soft copies to the MoEF/SEIAA on 1st June and 1st December every year. Each of these documents is a public document and can be obtained by applying for it from the MoEF/SEIAA.

The latest Compliance Report should be displayed on the website of the MoEF/SEIAA

5. Transferability of an EC

The EC given for a project to a Project Proponent can be transferred during its validity to another person entitled to undertake the project. In that case, an application to this effect should be submitted by the Transferor or by the Transferee with a written “no objection” by the Transferor.

The terms & conditions and validity period will remain in effect as stipulated in the EC. There is no requirement for further confirmation regarding these by the EAC/SEAC.

Acts & Regulations

The Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EPA), gives powers to the MoEF to restrict areas in which any industry, operation or process cannot be carried out, or can be permitted subject to certain safeguards. [Clause V, Sub-sec (2), Section 3 of the EPA]

The Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006 (EIA Notification) has been issued under the EPA.