MUMBAI: Easing rules, the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has said the building industry need not make trips to Delhi for environmental clearances (EC). The development will help save time, money and human resources spent on following up clearances for projects with the Centre.
In a notification issued late last month, the union ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has said that for all constructions above 2 lakh sq feet the general conditions of the Environment Notification 2006 will not apply. Similarly it will not apply to townships and area development projects.
The general conditions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006 applied to areas classified as eco-sensitive areas, critically polluted areas, inter-state boundaries and international boundaries.
Eco-sensitive areas are a buffer zone spread over a radius of 10 kms around national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a protected area and on December 3, the MoEF had issued a notification that all proposed projects, whole or in part within the 10 km radius of such areas will need a nod from the National Wildlife Board.
Sources said even for the clearance from the NWLB, developers will not have to make a trip to Delhi. Now project proposals need to be submitted to the State Environment Appraisal Committee -2 (SEAC-2) that scrutinises all projects in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. If it feels that a clearance from the NWLB is necessary, it will forward the proposal to the Board. Once the clearance is obtained, the proposal will then go before the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) for the final EC.
The notification comes as a huge relief for building projects in Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Goregaon, Bhandup, Mulund, Thane etc. There are a large number of buildings that are undergoing redevelopment especially in the western suburbs. The other significant protected area is the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. This protected area affects number of township projects in Roha in Raigad district, Panvel etc.
The notification has all together exempted, schools, colleges, hostels for educational purposes and industrial sheds from seeking an EC even from the state authority. This, provided that they ensure sustainable environmental management of liquid and solid waste.
Sources, however, said the MoEF is yet to re-constitute the SEAC-2. The tenure of the earlier committee ended in June, and thereafter, the state government sent names to MoEF for the new committee. However, the new committee is yet to be approved. ``In the absence of the SEAC-2, all projects need to be submitted to MoEF. So it will be sometime before the effects are seen here,'' they said.