Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-D), which had earlier told the Noida Authority (NA) of the need to acquire central environmental clearances for its Bhim Rao Ambedkar Memorial Park project in Noida, recently gave it a clean chit.
The NA had sought the expertise of the institute’s environmental engineering department in March to conduct an “environmental examination” of the Rs 685 crore (Rs 68.5 million) project on a consultancy basis. It is part of the authority’s policy to get all new projects — worth Rs 10 crore or above — examined by the institute.
Earlier this month, a Supreme Court-appointed fact-finding expert panel had “found the project lacking” key central environmental clearances and recommended the authority and the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government to stop construction till the clearances were acquired. The Supreme Court, on Saturday, refused to stay work at the park but did ask the UP government to respond to the panel’s report by October 9.
On August 13, the NA had submitted IIT-D’s clearance for the project, stating it did not attract the provisions of the EIA Notification of 2006. IIT-D’s clearance, as its letter to the NA informed, was based on the facts and documents submitted to it by the state government.
When contacted, an IIT-D official refused to comment, saying “the matter is sub-judice”.
HT has copies of the correspondence between the NA and IIT-D’s environmental engineering department. According to one of the letters, the state government had said the project’s “covered construction area” was merely around “7,000 square metre, including the memorial building and the toilets (3499.5 square metre) and utility facilities (3,400 square metre)”, thereby not attracting the provisions of the EIA’s limit of 20,000 square metre for new construction projects.
“We conclude from the …facts submitted to IIT Delhi that the stated project does not come under clauses…of notification (EIA) dated 14.09.2006 issued by the (central) Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF),” read the IIT-D letter. IIT-D’s letter did not indicate whether or not it had crosschecked the data received from the state government.
MoEF’s Inspection team on July 10 had established the project lacked EIA clearances on two counts.
Though the EIA notification of 2006 had made it compulsory for a new construction project with a built-up space of or above 20,000 square metre to acquire an EIA certificate, the Noida project did not comply with it despite having covered construction activities spread over an allegedly bigger than the limit.
The project also did not take an EIA certificate despite being located merely 100 metre from the Okhla Bird Park Wild Life Sanctuary (OBPWS).