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[en] Environmental impact assessment (EIA) was first introduced in India based on the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), 1986. But formally it came in to effect, when Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has passed a major legislative measure under EPA in January 1994 for Environmental Clearance (EC) known as EIA Notification, 1994. Subsequently, EIA processes have been strengthened by MoEF by a series of amendments. The current practice is adhering to EIA Notification, 2006 and its amendments. The pieces of evidence collected and analysis in the present assessment suggest that, despite a sound legislative, administrative and procedural set-up EIA has not yet evolved satisfactorily in India. An appraisal of the EIA system against systematic evaluation criteria, based on discussions with various stakeholders, EIA expert committee members, approval authorities, project proponents, NGOs and consulting professionals, reveals various drawbacks of the EIA system. These mainly include; inadequate capacity of EIA approval authorities, deficiencies in screening and scoping, poor quality EIA reports, inadequate public participation and weak monitoring. Overall, EIA is used presently as a project justification tool rather than as a project planning tool to contribute to achieving sustainable development. While shortcomings are challenging, Government of India is showing a high degree of commitment. The EIA system in the country is undergoing progressive refinements by steadily removing the constraints. The paper identifies opportunities for taking advantage of the current circumstances for strengthening the EIA process. - Highlights: ► An assessment has been carried out on Environmental Clearance under EIA Notification, 2006, MoEF, Government of India. ► EIA system is appraised against systematic evaluation criteria proposed by Ahmad and Wood (2002), Wood (2003), Fuller (1999). ► The analysis reveals reveals various drawbacks of the EIA system. ► The paper identifies opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of the EIA system in India.