MUMBAI: High rise building projects in India’s commercial capital Mumbai might get a breather from the ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) guidelines linking height of the building with a width of a near-by road and a distance from fire station.
The Planning Commission has asked former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Kasturirangan to review the city’s case and suggest whether it can be exempted from the rules, officials said.
The MOEF's guideline had made environmental clearance to any high rise buildings in places where it does not have a road of minimum width along with it difficult. The guidelines linked the height of a building to the width of the road. For instance, a building of over 60 metres has to have a road with minimum width of 30 metres.
The criteria were based on guidelines released by MoEF through its office order dated July seven last year. The guidelines also require the high buiding projects to have a fire station within a stipulated distance. For instance, a building of over 60 metre height must have a fire station within two km. The desirable thing, the guidelines say is that the fire station should be within 10 minutes of driving distance.
Builders alleged that the guidelines not only delayed environmental clearance for projects, but also escalated their costs manifold leading to a upproar by the country’s real estate sector.
New constructions in Mumbai were particularly affected as most of the buildings failed to adhere to the 30 meters wide road norm because of paucity of space.
After the guidelines, industry representatives approached the Prime Minister’s Office. As such a committee was appointed to review the guidelines. That committee was also heded by Kasturirangan.
The Committee submitted its report to the MoEF a few months back. However, it has not been made public yet. Representatives from the Confederation of Indian Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), the apex body for private Real Estate developers in India, too were part of the Kasturirangan committee.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in his recent discussion with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had raised the issue of granting exemption to Mumbai from the MoEF guidelines.
“We have made representations to the Kasturirangan Committee based on data collected from 4-5 states and have said that the entire issue of environment clearance should be looked into by local authorities and once we get the clearance there should not be further requirement of clearance,” C Shekhar Reddy, vice president of National Executive Committee of CREDAI told Business Standard.
He said the real estate industry is not against environmental clearances, but it should not take years to get one single clearance. Some industry officials said that to get a Environmental Impact Assessment clearance on an average takes around 20 months in Maharashtra, a year in Madhya Pradesh, 10 months in Punjab and eight in Kerala.
Reddy said even the Finance Minister was apprised of the delay in environmental clearance for real estate projects which prohibits industry players from accessing bank loans.
Officials said the environment ministry is of the view such guidelines was necessary keeping in view the safety and security of the residents.