AIIMS Kalyani, to be inaugurated by Modi, does not have environment clearance | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

AIIMS Kalyani, to be inaugurated by Modi, does not have environment clearance

Feb 24, 2024 05:55 PM IST

AIIMS in Kalyani, West Bengal allegedly operating without environmental clearance, faces Rs.15 crore penalty. PM Modi to dedicate the facility on Sunday.

Kolkata: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in West Bengal’s Kalyani, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to dedicate to the nation on Sunday, is allegedly operating without an environmental clearance (EC), officials of the state pollution control board said on Saturday.

AIIMS Kalyani/Representative Image (ANI Photo)
AIIMS Kalyani/Representative Image (ANI Photo)

According to the guidelines of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC), any project larger than 20,000 sqm needs to take a prior environmental clearance.

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“The construction agency, which is building the AIIMS at Kalyani, first applied to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) on October 6, 2022, through the Centre’s Parivesh portal. The application was under the ‘violation’ category as the construction process had already begun before the application was made,” Kalyan Rudra, chairman of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), said on Saturday.

“We cannot issue EC to AIIMS Kalyani at this stage. The Supreme Court has recently issued two orders related to projects which have applied for EC under the violator category on the Parivesh portal. Our hands are tied,” Rudra told media persons.

On Sunday, PM Modi is scheduled to virtually dedicate to the nation five new AIIMS at Rajkot, Rae Bareli, Bathinda, Mangalagiri and Kalyani to cater to the super speciality and tertiary medical care.

AIIMS authorities could not be contacted. Calls and messages to Dr Ramji Singh, the executive director of AIIMS Kalyani, went unanswered.

On October 19, following the MoEFCC and Supreme Court’s guidelines, the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) imposed an environmental impact damage cost and a penalty of Rs.15 crore.

“As the project cost was around Rs.1000 crore, an environmental impact damage cost of 0.5% was imposed. A penalty of 1% was also imposed. They (AIIMS Kalyani authorities) were asked to deposit a total amount of Rs.15.1 crore,” Rudra said.

However, AIIMS Kalyani applied for an exemption, contending that it was a health facility and therefore, did not require an environmental clearance. “In September 2023, they applied for an exemption to the SEIAA, and as it was a huge project, the SEIAA asked for an opinion from the MoEFCC, to which the ministry said that obtaining an EC was mandatory”, said Rudra.

The Supreme Court on January 2, 2024, and February 2, 2024, passed two orders in which it stayed an office memorandum of the MoEFCC issued in May 2022, which allowed projects to apply in the violation category.

“Hence, at this stage, after the apex court’s orders, we cannot issue any environmental clearance to AIIMS Kalyani or for that matter to any other project applied under the violator category. There are at least 25 other projects across West Bengal which have been hit because of the apex court’s orders. The hands of all state pollution control boards are tied now,” added Rudra.

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