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According to the Guidance for Implementing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process: No. 2 – A General Guide for Conducting Environmental Scoping – 2006 by Central Environmental Authority (CEA), the National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980 as amended (NEA) has identified two levels in the Environmental Impact Assessment process. These two levels are:
The IEE, according to the NEA, is a report whereby possible impacts of prescribed projects are assessed with a view to determine whether the impacts are significant or not. An IEE therefore must entail all the possible environmental impacts and the intensity of such impacts. In certain instances, if the Preliminary Information (PI), is sufficiently documented, it was considered an IEE by the Project Approving Agencies (PAAs).
The IEE report, unlike the EIA, does not look into the alternatives to the proposed project, nor attempt to find means of mitigation for the identified impacts. The IEE also does not carry out any environmental cost-benefit analysis in its reporting. Though the CEA guideline identifies the IEE as part and parcel of the EIA process, in practice these two are treated as two separate reporting processes. The CEA itself elaborates that any prescribed project submitted to the CEA for approval must either submit an IEE or an EIA. Yet, as per the CEA guidelines, any Project Proponent who may submit a PI/ IEE initially, may be required to submit an EIA owing to the complexity and the significant impact of the proposed project.
Another confusion present in the IEE process is whether Public Participation is a mandatory step in the IEE process under the legislations. Although the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, No. 02 of 1937 as amended and North Western Province Environmental Statute, No. 12 of 1990 allow public participation in the IEE process, all other legislations exclude public participation as a step of the IEE process.