Govt Proposed To Ease Environment Clearance Rules For Construction
The government has once again proposed to ease the environment rules for the building and construction sector, specifying that projects of less than 50,000 square metres size would not require environment clearance (EC). The projects will be able to commence construction once the local authorities issue the building permission incorporating a series of environmental conditions.
Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has sought suggestions and views of all stakeholders within 60 days of the draft notification for environment clearance after it will be finalised.
But the proposal is once again expected to face legal battle as environmental experts said the environment ministry’s proposal was in defiance of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) decision and that it will dilute environmental laws in favour of ease of business.
The building and construction sector is governed by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006 under which any project of more than 20,000 square metres requires EC.
But in December 2016, the Union environment ministry introduced a new system wherein projects up to 300,000 square metres would not need the mandatory EC once state authorities had integrated environmental conditions with their building bye-laws.
However, the notification was challenged in the NGT, which in its January 2018 judgment, called the December 2016 notification of MoEFCC “a ploy to circumvent the provisions of environmental assessment.
The environment ministry has now come out with the latest draft notification (13 March) which stated that the “central government is streamlining the permissions for buildings and construction sector”.
Stating that it is “important to streamline the process to achieve housing for all by 2022 with the objective of making available, affordable housing to the weaker section in urban areas”, the MoEFCC’s draft environment clearance noted that-
- On the basis of assessment of a large number of cases of environmental clearances of building and construction proposals, objective criteria can be laid down for grant of Environmental Clearances.
- “the current environmental regime covers buildings and constructions of above 20,000 square meter of built-up area” and it is “proposed to increase the threshold value to 50, 0000 square meters of built-up area based on objective principles and need for protecting the environment”.
- “a self-declaration form to comply with the environmental conditions shall be submitted online by the project proponent besides application for building permission to the local authority for building permission to the local authority for the building and construction projects more than 5,000 sq. metres and less than 50,000 sq. metres.
- “Thereafter, the local authority may issue the building permission incorporating the environmental conditions and allow the project to commence based on the conditions. The local authority shall ensure the compliance of the environmental conditions through the existing mechanism,” the draft proposed.
It also held that these permissions would be governed with “environmental conditions” like the use of water efficient appliances, rainwater harvesting system, proper waste management system, use of energy efficient system, use of renewable power, measures to tackle pollution, green cover etc.
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