Most of the exploration and mining projects produce impacts on or changes in the state of natural environment, of which some are positive and some are negative. The description of the environmental factors/baseline data is an integral part of an environmental impact study. Baseline data on environment is important to understand existing physical, biological, cultural and social environmental characteristics.
The purpose in defining the existing environment factor/baseline data collection is two-fold:
- To get an idea of the existing environmental, social and economic scenarios in and around the proposed project location and
- To identify changes in the environmental and social parameters during post-construction.
Bangladesh has a very high population density, with a large portion of its people directly dependent on local natural resources. Therefore, the environmental factors/data collection exercise has to be contextual and specific to the impacts of the project is likely to have on the people and the natural resource endowment.
The environmental factor/baseline data collection should be specific to the project size and characteristics as well. In general, the environmental factor/baseline data for an EIA covers three major components:
- Physical environment: includes land forms, drainage, land use patterns, geology, hydrology, meteorological data, air quality, water quality, noise, physical infrastructures, other polluting sources, etc.
- Biological environment: includes biodiversity within and around the proposed project site, aquatic and terrestrial habitats i.e. flora and fauna, fisheries, wildlife, forests, rare or endangered species etc.
- Socio-economic environment: includes data on demographics, livelihoods, economic activities and occupational patterns, dependence on natural resources, social profiles, indexes of human development, proposed land acquisition and displacement of population, etc.
On the basis of collected relevant data and extensive field work, the PML team has documented an environmental baseline condition of the study area and the Important Environmental Components (IECs) have been identified through a scoping process. The impact of each activity carried out during mobilization, exploration and demobilization on different IEC has been assessed.
There are number of environmental laws and regulations with direct relevance to the exploration and development of mineral sands, including The Environment Conservation Act, 1995. The enforcement of this statute is guided by the rules and regulations of The Environment Conservation Rules, 1997. The Rules specify the powers and functions of the DoE, and the responsibilities of industries to ensure ecosystem integrity.