EIA review: Challenges for environmental impact assessment in Sri Lanka

Salient features in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process in Sri Lanka have proven to be the provision for public participation, the requirement of alternative proposals, and the use of a prescribed list to identify projects that must undergo review. While EIA has been successfully introduced and over 500 projects have been reviewed, some significant shortcomings remain. Integrated government policies on the types of projects that are encouraged in various zones are needed. Environmental data and effluent standards are insufficient. A code of conduct for project-approving authorities and the EIA consultants is needed. The infrastructure to monitor and enforce environmental regulations is inadequate. Addressing these shortcomings will be challenging given the opposition to the EIA process and the limitations in resources. But it is all the more important so that EIA can become entrenched in project appraisal.