Many projects in the city are being constructed without obtaining environmental clearance, which is mandatory under the Impact Assessment Authority Notification 2006, said Environment and Forest Department sources.
Sources told Express that as per the notification, a project proponent or applicant can’t commence activity, except fencing of the site and construction of temporary shed for guard, without obtaining environmental clearance.
It is believed that many projects in the city are okayed without insisting on environmental clearance. Sources said that the projects commence with conditional environmental clearance, but later the officials do not pursue it before giving them completion certificates. However, the Environment Department has taken a serious note of the issue and the chairman of State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) wrote a letter to the Housing and Urban Department on February 7, highlighting the issue.
It is believed that SEIAA has stressed the need for starting the construction only after the project gets the approval from the state level Environment Impact Assessment Authority or the Ministry of Environmental and Forests as applicable to the project under the threshold limits.
This also includes special buildings with total floor area of the proposed development exceeding 20,000 square metres. Any violation from the above requirement is liable for action under Section 19 of the Environment Protection Act of 1986. Meanwhile, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has accepted the suggestions of SEIAA and it will be incorporated in the planning permission approval proceedings. The measure is welcomed by builders. Builders’ Association of India R Radhakrishnan says this measure will help protect the environment and also bring some semblance in planning permissions.
But will the suggestions work? Many are of the opinion that usually the builder tries to escape the ceiling of 20,000 sq ft by breaking his projects into three components. Dr Abdul Razak Mohammed, professor and head, Ddepartment of Planning SAP, Anna University, said that this is easy for people to escape from coming under the ambit of seeking an environment clearance for their project. “The government should focus more on the land use rather than square feet,” he added.
Meanwhile, the SEIAA has urged the electricity board to provide power connection to such buildings only after getting environmental clearance.