MUMBAI: In a move aimed at easing the path for major building projects, the state environment department has suggested doing away with mandatory eco-clearances for such constructions at the state-level and delegating the role to local municipalities.
The proposal applies to projects which are over 20,000 square metres or 2 lakh square feet. Roughly 50% of the constructions in the city fall in this category according to the housing industry.
"The proposal was sent last month and is being considered by the Ministry of Environment and Forests," said principal secretary (environment) Ajoy Mehta.
The state's aim is to promote the ease of doing business by dispensing with one rung of clearances since building projects have to go through municipal clearances in any case. "Municipalities which are equipped to undertake environmental clearances on specific parameters should be allowed to do so," Mr Mehta added.
Municipalities will have to check several parameters in the projects including whether their garbage and sewage disposal plans are adequate. They will also have to look into rainwater harvesting and water supply plans and whether the construction impacts ground water resources. They will also have to enforce rules relating to open spaces.
The housing industry says the move will help speed up projects. "If it goes through, there will be a single-window clearance for projects. A lot of time gets wasted with both agencies checking with each other on paperwork," said Sunil Mantri, president of the National Real Estate Development Council. He also said the municipality would be better equipped to check if conditions are followed.
However, eco groups allege the government is trying to shrug off its responsibility to protect environmental norms. "Asking the municipality to clear such projects is no solution. The Mumbai municipality for instance has been at the fore-front of trying to dilute environmental norms," said Debi Goenka from the Conservation Action Trust.