The present status of public participation in EIA particularly concerning biodiversity in West Bengal, India was studied. The issues raised in 50 public hearings were analyzed and chapters on biodiversity in 20 EIA reports were studied. Areas needing improvement were identified. Scientific literature was studied to gather best practices/concepts. It was observed that, despite all enabling legal provisions, public participation in EIA has not grown to its full potential. The discussion was mostly on jobs and benefits (and little on biodiversity impact). EIA reports did not provide any spatial information on biodiversity-rich/sensitive areas or impact on bio-resources that are used by people. We identified four pillars of effective public participation in EIA as: (I) institutional opportunity and conducive environment for participation; (ii) interest of local people to participate; (iii) capacity building of local people; and, (iv) support of clearance process. Specific recommendations under each are provided. A simple matrix for Biodiversity Impact Assessment and a list of components for the improvement of biodiversity, for use of local people, have been developed.
|Publication status||Published - 26 Apr 2021|