Environmental impact assessment (EIA): an overlooked instrument for sustainable development in Pakistan
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Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a policy tool used for evaluating a project proposal from physical and socioeconomic environmental perspectives. Its aim is to reduce the impact of development on environment, hence, ensuring environmental sustainability. It is mandatory to submit an Environmental Impact Statement before starting a mega project as required by Environmental Protection Act of 1997 and Environmental Policy of Pakistan. Public consultation plays a key role in an EIA system, identifying the likely aspects and impacts of a development activity. This aspect has been ignored in effective enactment of environmental legislation in Pakistan. Sufficient legislative instruments are there to support EIA system in the country but the agencies responsible for the enforcement of environmental regulations have failed to do so. The current research gives an insight into the actual status of EIA system in Pakistan along with the feedback of EIA specialists and university teachers of the concerned departments. A new index has been devised on the basis of questionnaire response to work out the overall performance of EIA system in Pakistan or any other country. The weaknesses and deficiencies of each EIA stage have been worked out for Pakistan and elaborated with the help of the controversial Zero point Interchange Project in the capital city of Pakistan.
KeywordsEnvironmental impact assessment Environmental protection agency Pakistan Zero point interchange project Capital development authority Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA 1997) EIA index
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