CHENNAI: In a major boon to the struggling realty sector, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has made key amendments to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006, allowing residential projects with a built-up area up to 1.5 lakh square metres to obtain environment clearance (EC) from local authorities.
For Chennai, for instance, this would mean the EC can be obtained from the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and Greater Chennai Corporation instead of having to get it from the ministry as is the case now. According to the present norms, all projects with a built-up area exceeding 20,000 square metres had to take prior EC from the ministry and also concurrence of State pollution control boards.
Yet another relaxation pertains to the mandatory Consent to Establish and Operate under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 from the state pollution control boards for residential buildings up to 1,50,000 square metres.
However, these amendments will not come into force automatically. The centre had notified the amendments on December 9, 2016 but has left it to states to decide and incorporate them into their building bylaws.
The final notification, a copy of which is available with Express, says that to make the amendments legally enforceable, the State should adopt the objectives and monitorable environmental conditions in the building bylaws and other relevant State laws.
Then, it should forward the proposed changes to the environment ministry, which in turn would examine the draft. If found satisfactory, it would convey the concurrence and issue an order stating that no separate environmental clearance is required for buildings to be constructed in the particular State or area under the local authority.
To ensure that none of these steps would lead to laxity in following the highest environmental standards are followed, State governments or local authorities are mandated to constitute an Environment Cell for compliance and monitoring and to ensure environmental planning. The cell will supervise the implementation of the bye-laws and rules framed for integration of environmental conditions for construction of building. The cell will also allow third party auditing process for oversight.
While prescribing environmental conditions to each of the category like extent of green cover, conservation, rain water harvesting, groundwater recharge, solid waste management etc., the ministry has divided the projects into three categories based on build-up area, including 5,000 square meter to 20,000 square meter; 20,000 to 50,000; and 50,000 to 1,50,000.
Sources in the ministry have justified the radical amendments saying it was needed to streamline the permission process for construction sector to realise the Centre’s ambitious target of providing Housing for All by 2022.
Reacting to the development, Ajit Kumar Chordia, president of Chennai-chapter, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai), said it is a welcome move from ministry, especially when the sector is in shambles.
Credai has already written to Tamil Nadu Housing and Urban Development department to urgently incorporate the environment condition in the by-laws, he added.
“Getting environment clearance has been the major irritant for the growth and development of real estate industry. We requested the State government to expeditiously notify the environmental condition in our by-laws and gave the commitment for environmentally sustainable development,” he said.