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To decide the importance of the attributes, an expert opinion survey was conducted. Table 2 presents the comparison scale used in AHP and corresponding linguistic variables used in the survey in the present study. A questionnaire containing the list of the criteria/attributes was circulated among environmental experts and their responses regarding the importance to be assigned to the attributes were collected in the linguistic form on the basis of the comparison scale proposed by Saaty (1990). The linguistic variables were converted to the absolute numbers. The average values of the responses of the experts were considered in forming the relative importance matrix.

Table 2

The comparison scale used in AHP and linguistic variables assigned

Intensity of importanceDefinitionExplanationLinguistic variable
Equal importance Two activities contribute equally to one objective Extremely low 
Intensity of importance (II) between 1 and 3 – Very low 
Moderate importance of one over another Judgment slightly favors one activity over another Low 
II between 3 and 5 – Below average 
Strong importance Judgment strongly favors one activity over another Average 
II between 5 and 7 – Above average 
Very strong importance An activity is strongly favored and its dominance is demonstrated in practice High 
II between 7 and 9 – Very high 
Extreme importance The evidence favoring one activity over another is of the highest possible order of affirmation Extremely high 
Intensity of importanceDefinitionExplanationLinguistic variable
Equal importance Two activities contribute equally to one objective Extremely low 
Intensity of importance (II) between 1 and 3 – Very low 
Moderate importance of one over another Judgment slightly favors one activity over another Low 
II between 3 and 5 – Below average 
Strong importance Judgment strongly favors one activity over another Average 
II between 5 and 7 – Above average 
Very strong importance An activity is strongly favored and its dominance is demonstrated in practice High 
II between 7 and 9 – Very high 
Extreme importance The evidence favoring one activity over another is of the highest possible order of affirmation Extremely high 

Note: reciprocals of the above non zero – if activity i has one of the above non-zero numbers assigned to it when compared with activity j, then j has the reciprocal value when compared with i.

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