Sprawling high-rise buildings may not attract stringent green norms as the environment ministry is all set to relax rules in a bid to foster growth in a sector hit by high interest rates.
The ministry will de-link height of the buildings that can come up on roads that have a certain width. The co-relation was prescribed by the ministry around a year ago, which resulted in strong protests by real estate companies which say it has slowed down many of their new projects.
The ministry had said a building between 15-30 metres high can come up on a road with minimum width of 15 metres. In case of buildings above 60 metres, the ministry prescribed the minimum road width of 30 metres.
The condition was stipulated on the basis of the recommendations of the ministry's expert appraisal committee (EAC) which said the link was necessary for quick help in case of any possible disasters.
The ministry, therefore, prescribed that no-objection certificate should be obtained from fire department at two stages - before construction and after occupation. It also wanted the project proponent to seek a no-objection certificate from the local disaster management authority.
"Demand for so many approvals has created an unnecessary licence raj (system)," a senior government official said, adding that the environment ministry is set to simplify the norms. Officials said the conditions prescribed in the February 2012 order had nothing to do with environmental management and therefore, was outside the domain of the ministry.
The ministry had constituted a committee headed by planning commission member K Kasturirangan to examine issues raised by real estate sector, and those relating to road widening projects and special economic zones.
Sources said the committee has agreed to remove the linkage provided that the buildings are safe and easily accessible for disaster management. It is also of the view that seeking fire clearance and approval for being disaster proof was the job of local municipal bodies, not the ministry.
The committee has been also asked to examine if the real estate sector should be exempted from environment clearance to avoid duplication as such projects are covered by local civic authorities and are under relevant master plan, building control regulation and safety regulations.
Many in the committee felt that such exemption would create an urban mess as most municipal bodies fail to appraise projects on environmental grounds. But they are of the view that ministry should not give clearance to the sectors covered under municipal laws.
The government source said the committee would provide ample scope to further ease green norms for road sector projects and special economic zones, which the government believes are necessary to attract investment. Probably, at the cost of environmental degradation.