Some of the city’s key projects like the Navi Mumbai airport, the Metro II line from Charkop to Mankhurd and the Trans Harbour Link from Sewri to Nhava may get stuck even before they get started.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has decided to block environmental clearances to projects in 88 industrial areas across the country with high levels of pollution. Eight areas from Maharashtra are on this list of what the Ministry calls the critical and severe comprehensive environment pollution index (CEPI).
According to an MoEF directive issued on January 13, clearances for works in Navi Mumbai, which is among the “critically polluted” areas, stand blocked indefinitely, while projects in places such as Chembur, ranked as “severely polluted,” will not get a nod for the next eight months. A review will be done after that to check if pollution levels have dropped.
The Navi Mumbai airport, the Metro line passing through Chembur and the Trans Harbour Link are awaiting environmental clearances.
The restrictions will apply to development projects specified in the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 — that includes all industries, infrastructure works like airports, highways, flyovers, oil pipelines and even power plants.
Many real estate projects too could be hit as any housing or commercial complex with a built-up area of 20,000 square metres or more needs the Centre’s approval.
S.P. Gautam, chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board that carried out the assessment for the MoEF last month along with IIT Delhi, said the restrictions could not apply only to industrial units. “If land or water in an area is bad, the areas around are affected,” he said.
Asked about the airport project, he said, “I don’t want to comment on that, but unless these areas show signs of improvement in terms of quality of environment, we will not consider projects.”
State chief secretary J.P. Dange said he had not seen the order but would take measures to ensure projects are not hit.