In a major boost to realty sector, the Centre has granted power to states to decide on new townships and construction and development projects, restricting the ministry of environment and forests to environmental sustainability aspects.
This would apparently speed up the approval process and reduce duplication of work. On the flip side, the decision would clip the wings of state environment bodies as they would not be able to examine projects holistically.
The environment ministry had after much resistance got the power to examine all aspects of a project, including a township plan, but had to step down after protests by state governments like Kerala and Maharashtra.
The environment ministry had then issued an order, asking state environment impact assessment authorities not to assess projects on the basis of township plans, master plan or structural safety norms.
This decision was based on the recommendations of a panel on high-rise buildings headed by member planning commission K Kasturirangan.
The panel said environment bodies should consider only environmental aspects for construction projects. “Otherwise, it leads to unnecessary duplication and undue delay,” a senior ministry official said.
“The state-level authorities need not focus on other issues which are normally looked after by the concerned local bodies,” the ministry’s order said.
This includes fire safety of the building, its linkage with approach roads and provision of drinking water and electricity.