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The goal of all governments around the world is to provide basic necessities to the people who live under their rule. Water supply, healthcare services, and infrastructure development are all examples of basic amenities. The Indian government intends to expand the country's road network.
India is one of the most promising emerging countries in the world, and infrastructure development should be prioritized to keep up with this rate of development. The goal of this project is to investigate how construction activities in Indian states can be carried out without significantly compromising the state of the environment. A case study of roads construction in Madurai city will be used to reflect on the larger outcome (Woof).
Environmental Impact Assessment is the process of assessing the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or activity and identifying options to minimize environmental damage from the activity (Epa). IA is mainly carried to aid decision makers in decision making before the project is undertaken. This makes it a decision-making tool. EIA does not only protect the environment from the adverse damage of projects but has also economic benefits to the economy. Previously EIA mainly focused on physical developments such as the construction of highways, power stations and industries but the scope has expanded in the recent years to include policies, plans and alternative actions. All these scopes make part of the project development phases.
EIA in India was started in 1976.It has since expanded to cover projects that need an approval from the Public Investment Board .The Indian Government enacted Environmental Protection Act in May 1986.
Madura has a population of 2.7 million and a recorded population increase of 1.2 million over the past 5 years (World Bank). This averages to an increase rate of 0.24 million years. Madurai is the second largest city in the Tamil Nadu state of India. Madurai city is located in southeastern India on the banks of river Vaigai. This city serves as the headquarters of Tamil Nadu state. Geographically it is 9.91 N 78.1 E and at an altitude of 330 feet above sea level. The city has an urbanization percentage of 56.01. The population in this city has been steadily increasing in the recent past hence the need to give a facelift to the infrastructure in this town so as to accommodate the lives of residents without any public health threats. This makes it important for the construction of roads to aid in the transportation of persons and boost economic activities in the city.
An impact on the environment will always occur in case a construction activity is undertaken. Construction activities are the only way through which development of infrastructure will be achieved. Though it brings with it economic and aesthetic benefits to the environment, there is need to look at the adverse effects it brings with it. Open pits, a biogenic threat of floating dust, soil erosion, landslides and contamination of water sources can all be as a result of construction activities.
Scope of study
This study will entirely comprise feasibility studies of the impacts of road construction on the environment in Madurai city of Tamil Nadu state in India and the surrounding environment.
Projects will always have consequences on the environment and individuals as a large. The aim of projects is to improve the lives of people in a community but this should not be achieved in detriment to individual lives in the community.27 percent of the Indian population lives in urban areas. Of this, over 30% live in slum areas where access to social amenities is a problem. Out of the 3245 towns in India, only 21 have at least partial sewage treatment facilities. These are problems created due to lack of forecasting during construction of these towns. Public health lives are threatened the by the existence of such scenarios in the country and death cases due to structure failures are reported. To curb an increase in these cases there is need to enhance Environmental Impact Assessment activities in the country. Madurai city was chosen due to its geographical richness.
The objectives of this study will be measurable. The main objective of this study is to identify the adverse impact of road construction in Madurai City of Tamil Nadu state of India. Come up with ways to minimize pollution, environmental nuisance and discomfort at the construction sites.
Other objectives will include;
a. To identify areas in the community those are to be negatively affected by the construction of roads in Madurai city.
b. To identify works that will be associated with roads construction and requirements for construction in Madurai city.
c. To determine losses and damages that will be associated with the construction of roads in Madurai city on natural habitats, flora and fauna.
d. To quantify emissions that will be expected from construction processes in Madurai city.
e. To identify the negative impacts of construction of roads in Madurai city. This is despite opening the city to outsiders for investment.
f. To enact best environmental monitoring and auditing strategies that will ensure the protection of the environment from pollutants and controlling the level of pollution.
Methodology of data collection
Questionnaires, observations, interviews and past data aid in the collection of data on environmental impacts. Employees working for the firm, inhabitants around a construction site and the general public are eligible to fill the questionnaires. Open-ended questionnaires are used to ensure the respondents give more information openly and willingly (My-peer). These people will also be included in interviews if they wish to. Observation skills by the researchers also aid in data collection. Visiting areas that construction activities have been undertaking or are being undertaken around Madurai city will greatly influence the outcome. Secondary data can be collected from previous records of the company and public experiences regarding road construction activities. A combination of these methods ensures reliability and authenticity of data.
Findings and discussion
Construction of roads in Madurai city impacted on the air, land and water quality among other environmental components.
Erosion and soil loss are the main impacts of road construction. Highway construction affects soil quality more during the time of construction than usage time. Down sloping terrains experience more damage on soil quality than upslope. Vegetation coverage is always destroyed during the construction process and will always take time to recover though it may not be fully remediated. Vegetation cover will have to be cleared in order to enable the easy passage of construction materials in the area. This clearing of vegetation destroys the environment and exposes soil to erosion. For road construction forests have to be cleared in case they lie along construction ways. Hydrogen cycle, nutrient cycle and ecosystem sanitation all depend on forests and the clearing may mean harm to these natural life-sustaining processes (Boss controls).
Physical disturbances on the ground soil will disrupt ecological systems. Construction of roads will always promote such disturbances. The hilly areas of Madura if not well maintained during construction can lead to increased rate of water discharge into watersheds hence landslides.
Soil compaction will occur due to the movement of heavy machinery used in the construction of roads. This movement impacts on the soil physicality and chemical composition of the soil. Dug out soil is exposed to runoff easily than in areas where the soil is still compact.
The compaction of roads by moving machinery during construction kills soil animals. This creates a demographic imbalance hence consequences in the ecosystem.
Construction of roads affects the movement of water and transportation of pollutants. The recharging of ground water aquifers is also affected when road construction occurs. Ditches and holes dug when constructing roads play a role in hydrological networks.
The quality of water is also affected in such a way that chemicals like bitumen and dust released in road construction can pave a way into water sources hence polluting them. Fuel exhaust, tyre wear and oil leakages are all sources of pollution during construction phases. Roads are impervious; this makes water runoff on them greater than most unconstructed land. This runoff will always contain pollutants and carry them to water bodies hence cases of eutrophication and death of water life forms.
The biogenic threat of dust is the major threat to air quality during construction. The dust released into the air may transmit infections to human beings around the construction site. This dust may also contain trace minerals which are heavy metals and get passage into human body directly through inhalation or dissolve into water bodies and consumed through drinking water by humans. This is a health threat to human beings. The increase in VOCs, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxides from the machinery in use also threat the quality of air.
The burning of fuels by construction machinery during the construction emits nitrogen oxides, VOCs and particulates. Other hazardous air pollutants from these machines may be benzene. These pollutants may cause adverse respiratory health effects on human beings and even allergic reactions. Global warming though may be an effect after years will be due to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The air quality will be affected during the construction process due to emissions from the machinery used in the construction of roads. Dust released also pose a biogenic threat to the public.
The machinery used during construction produces a lot of noise. This will lead to noise pollution along construction sites. Residents 10 kilometers away from construction sites may be affected by the noise from construction activities.
Road as barriers to movement of animals
Construction of roads will impede the movement of animals from one area to another, the example being roads passing through parks. The changing of the flow of water bodies such as rivers may cause mortality of water animals or avoidance behavior.
The presence of air transport and rich road network makes it easy for the inhabitants to associate with the effects of construction activities The outcomes of the study in Madura city include the following;
The constructions of roads in Madura city will transverse land that was initially put into different uses like agriculture and settlements. Most of the lands are privately owned by individuals in the residential area. Private institutions and Government institutions will also face translocation problems. Once roads are constructed over these lands they will never be remediated into previous use.
Sensitive biological environment
Rivers, springs, dams and swamps are all sensitive environmental receptors in Madurai city. The project impact on the sensitive environment will be minimized since the major water body in Tamil Nadu state is river Vaigai and proper measures are put in place to prevent pollutants getting into the water body. Forests reserves are also to be protected in the city from destruction.
Discussions carried out with various stakeholders before construction of roads is initiated in Madurai city prove that the project is good for the economic development of the city and Tamil Nadu state as a whole. Arising issues outlined are land exploration and compensation of affected victims, soil erosion prevention from a short-term perspective and long term, vegetation and biotic factors at the sites and reinstallation of public amenities that will be affected by the construction process.
Alternative project routes
Most of the project will take part over road routes that previously existed. This will aid in reducing the number of casualties permanently displaced by the project activities. Only a few of pre-existent road routes will require re-routing into lands that previously had no road routes.
In some areas, vulnerable aged persons have resided for so long and it will prove hard to make them settle in other areas.
Potential environmental impacts evaluation
The biophysical and socio-economic environment will be affected by road construction. The impacts will also be categorized into either positive or negative and the level of impact on the environment gauged. The positive impacts of road construction in Madurai city outweigh negative ones hence the go ahead clue given to the project.
The anticipated impacts during construction of roads in Madurai city in the Tamil Nadu state of India.
Impacts due to construction activities
I. Positive impacts
The positive impacts from the construction activities will be;
a. Creation of employment for the residents close to construction sites hence a source of income for families in the area.
b. Market creation for project development materials in Tamil Nadu state and the whole of India generally.
c. There will be increased business opportunities for local traders and even international trade in the area.
d. Increased revenue to the government and local administrative bodies through taxation and duty payment. This will increase domestic GDP in India.
II. Negative impacts
a. The negative impacts from the construction activities will be;
b. The increase in fossil fuel consumption in the city of Madurai and risks of fuel spills and leaks.
c. Interference with the local basic amenities supplies routes like power lines and water systems.
d. Increases emission of noise from the machinery and Green House Gases from the exhaust systems of the construction machinery.
e. Exposure to accident risks will also be elevated.
f. Loss of income for some individuals in the city due to interference with socio-economic activities by the construction activities.
g. Loss of properties like houses and lands for those people who will be forced to displace.
h. Loss of vegetation in especially along construction sites.
i. Degradation of cultural practices that may lead to increase of social vices and spread of diseases like STI's and HIV/AIDS.
j. The increase in demand for materials like ballast, gravel and sand may lead to environmental degradation.
The concept of a sustainable road has been adopted to reduce environmental impacts during roads construction. Proper management of water runoff during construction and reducing erosion are the main ways of ensuring reduced land and water pollution during construction. The use of plant-based bitumen that is less toxic to the environment is also being encouraged. There is also need to use road bases that previously existed to avoid cases of breaking into new grounds is also a step in reducing negative impacts of road construction.
The break through to properly minimizing impacts of construction processes depend fully on design and materials used (Wirtgen group).
Road base construction will always require large quantities of materials, transportation of these materials will always lead to the emission of greenhouse gases due to the large numbers of machinery used and the distance to be covered in the transportation of these materials. This can be reduced by encouraging the use of locally available resources around the state and recycle materials from the previous road bases.
Impacts can also be reduced through designs. Routes designed can be set in areas that avoid sensitive ecological areas. To minimize an amount of raw materials in use also aids in reducing the impact of road construction on the environment.
Recycling can aid in reducing pollution to the environment in Madura city during construction of roads as it reduces the resources that are being consumed in the construction, aids in diversion of waste materials from the landfill and reduces quarrying and emission of Green House Gases due to transportation of materials as they are being utilized close to the site.
The debris collected from the construction sites should be collected, handled and transported safely to disposal sites without contaminating water bodies or even human sites.
Sewage effluent from the workers at the construction sites and run off from general construction activities are handled through drainages to avoid pollution.
a. Erosion will be controlled through a timely clearing of excavations from the construction sites. This will reduce the amount of soil to be carried by running water into water bodies.
b. Develop erosion control structures along construction sites like barriers to prevent the movement of soil and ensure new areas will only be excavated after work is finished in previous sites.
Develop afforestation plans in conjunction with local leaders from the community along construction sites. This will aid in restoring the environment back to its previous state before construction activities took place.
Digging holes at extreme ends of construction roads to minimize the impact of siltation in hydrological bodies.
Air quality will be maintained through the use of clean fuels on vehicles and machinery utilized during construction activities. This will reduce production of Green House Gases that contribute to global warming along the construction sites.
Education of vehicle drivers and machine operators will reduce emissions into the environment. These include GHGs and Particulates.
Of importance will also be avoiding clearing in riparian areas and developing on them as they take long to be remediated into their former state or may be permanently destroyed and avoiding using machinery in the vicinity of watercourses.
The machinery and equipment should also be inspected before use. This may reduce noise pollution during use and oil spillage.
The construction process will transform a habitat, that’s an impact that can never be done away with. Even slightest human activities have an impact on the environment. Existing vegetation and topographic features in the environment will be affected.
Siltation of water bodies may arise. This impact is, however, minimal and will affect water bodies only during the time of construction after which the environment can be reinstated naturally to its previous state.
Wildlife species will not be largely affected by the construction process in Madurai city. This is due to the area having low wildlife density along the construction sites.
Soil will be loosened during construction along the construction sites. This will expose the soils to soil erosion due to the effects of wind or water. This problem will be exacerbated by topography in areas like river beds.
Air quality will be jeopardized too by construction activities. As road construction machinery make their way transporting materials to the sites and actual activity of constructing roads, dust will be generated. This dust may pose a low health risk in areas of low population density but becomes a health threat once it occurs in areas of high population density along the streets of Madurai city.
A continuous sprinkling of water along dusty roads will aid in reducing the health risks associated with dust. Water demand during the construction process will be high hence the need to adequately plan for adequate access to water.
Hazardous substances like oils will be a threat during construction of roads in Madurai city. The spillage will, however, be minimal due to maintenance of the construction machinery and vehicles at garages and not on sites.
The areas that will be previously disturbed by the construction activity will be re-vegetated with native plant species that are adaptive to the ecosystem of the locality. This will help to ensure the plants grow fast before negative impacts due to the clearing of vegetation take toll of the site.
Encourage the use of human labour as opposed to heavy machinery that destroys the herbaceous layer and enhances landslides.
The local communities along the construction sites have to be given priority on the use of vegetation and wood fuel. This will aid the community to develop.
Avoidance of clearing in riparian vegetation will also help conserve the environment.
Soils excavated from road routes should be utilised in the construction of side walls to protect the roads from erosion that may pollute water bodies.
Steep terrains should be avoided during construction of the roads in Madurai city. Alternative routes will be sought to minimize the impacts of erosion on such steep terrains.
Road transport has brought with it undeniable socio-economic benefits. The ton of goods transported through roads is large and with them come wealth creation and employment opportunities. Roads aid in access to interior territories hence poverty elevation. This improves the living standards of communities that would have otherwise not been able to upgrade if no road access networks would reach their areas. Social cohesion and integration are brought about by road networks; all persons are given equal opportunities thus improving national unity in India. Road construction in Madura city will open up the area to outsiders. Economic, agricultural and transport activities will be greatly enhanced (NHAI). Proponents should only ensure they balance between environmental, social considerations and benefits through the effective implementation of mitigation measures outlined.
During the construction, process challenges will be experienced. Some of the perceive challenges include;
i. Poor topography. This will eat into the time of the project just trying to rephrase the topography into what the constructors want before proceeding to the next site.
ii. The transportation of materials will be had due to high prices of fuel and construction materials. Weather also impacts on the construction process.
iii. Land disputes along the construction sites, especially areas where new site are to be created.
iv. Clearing of vegetation along the construction site is also an expense that has to be incurred by the management.
Epa. "Environmental Impact Assessment :: Environmental Protection Agency". Epa.ie. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
NHAI. "Welcome To NHAI". Nhai.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
Wirtgen group. "New Road Construction - Our Technologies - WIRTGEN GROUP". Wirtgen-group.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
World bank. " Worldbank.org". N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
Woof, Mike. "World Highways - Developing India’S Roads With New Machines". Worldhighways.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
Boss controls. "How Buildings Impact The Environment | BOSS Controls". BOSS Controls. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
My-peer. "Data Collection Methods". Mypeer.org.au. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
GHGs Green House Gases like Nitrogen Oxides.
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
GDP Gross Domestic Product
VOC's Volatile Organic Compounds
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