The state government has slammed the functioning of the environment committees set up by the Centre and made a plea to the Union environment ministry to waive construction projects from getting mandatory clearance from these committees.
HT had reported on December 5 that MCHI had made a representation to Union environment minister Jayanti Natrajan against the state expert appraisal committee (SEAC) and state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) for causing delays to projects.
In a letter sent this month to secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) Dr T Chatterjee, chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad has lambasted the functioning of the SEAC terming it as a body with ‘no responsibility and only authority’. The SEAC is a recommendatory body of experts, set up under the ministry, for scrutinising construction projects.
The letter points out that the SEAC often ‘steps into the shoes of urban local bodies’, assumes a larger role and seeks information beyond environmental concerns.
This has led to 400 pending projects before the SEAC and the SEIAA, the letter states. The SEIAA is led by the environment secretary and is the final authority in granting green clearances in the state. The committees have delayed or rejected clearances for reasons including high Floor Space Index (FSI), poor traffic management, absence of waste management etc. They have also raised doubts about state policies such as rental housing and public parking FSI.
“It is seen that the committees questioned existing government policies and held back recommendations. This has brought development work to a grinding halt causing enormous losses,” states the letter, adding that since all residential projects are given clearances by the civic body, environmental requirements can be made a part of the building plan and approved by the local civic body itself.