The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has issued the controversial final notification that will enable local bodies such as municipalities, development authorities and district panchayats to grant environmental clearances for construction projects with built-up area between 20,000 sq m and 50,000 sq m.
In Mumbai, the BMC and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) have been delegated the job, which also includes environmental clearance for industrial sheds, educational institutions, hospital and education hostels with area between 20,000 sq m and 1,50,000 sq m.
Welcoming the notification, the developers say that the notification will boost affordable housing and reduce clearance time by almost a year. Environmentalists, on the other hand, have raised the red flag alleging that local bodies do not have the expertise for compliance.
The notification dated November 14 states that local bodies can now give building permissions and completion certificates, provided environmental conditions specified in the appendix are complied with. The appendix includes conditions related to natural drainage, water conservation, rain water harvesting and ground water recharge, waste management, energy, air quality and noise and green cover. They also specify that no construction will be allowed on wetlands and water bodies.
Environmental lawyer Zaman Ali told Mirror, “Where will district panchayats, for example, have the necessary scientific expertise to ensure that these conditions are fulfilled. It will be easy for developers to self-certify that they have complied with these conditions and get clearances.”
Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, CMD of Hiranandani Group and president of National Real Estate Development Council, said, “Clearances for the real estate sector have been simplified by the government, but some aspects still cause delays – environmental clearance is one.” However, D Stalin of NGO Vanashakti said that this has been done by the government “to make the environment process faster and please the construction sector ahead of the big election”.