The environment ministry has decided to exempt big buildings and real estate projects from taking environment clearance.(Parveen Kumar/HT File Photo)
The environment ministry has decided to exempt big buildings and real estate projects from taking environment clearance.(Parveen Kumar/HT File Photo)

Govt exempts big realty from obtaining environmental clearance

Going against its own orders, issued six months ago, the environment ministry has decided to exempt big buildings and real estate projects from taking environment clearance, a mandatory requirement under the law for the past more than a decade.
By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2016 01:04 PM IST

Going against its own orders, issued six months ago, the environment ministry has decided to exempt big buildings and real estate projects from taking environment clearance, a mandatory requirement under the law for the past more than a decade.

The U-turn will take the construction industry out of the environment ministry’s purview and no project could be challenged on environmental grounds before the National Green Tribunal, says experts.

Under the current law, the building and township projects of more than 20,000 square meters size are required to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study to gauge possible impacts of the project on the surrounding environment before starting its construction. If the project is considered safe, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA) appointed by the environment ministry, give permission (environment clearance) to the project.

The ministry has now issued a draft notification on April 29 which says the states which will integrate environmental conditions in the building approvals under their Building Bylaws will not have to get environment clearance for construction projects. It replaces the area-specific EIA and environment clearance process carried out by SEIAA prior to starting of the project with standard conditions such as ‘sewage discharge’, ‘water harvesting’ and ‘DG Sets specification’ imposed and monitored by the local urban authorities post construction of the project.

“This will mean, no construction project can be ever stopped or rejected on environmental grounds. Since there will be no environment clearance under the Environment Protection Act, the projects could also not be challenged before the National Green Tribunal which doesn’t have its jurisdiction over the state building bylaws,” said environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta.

The National Green Tribunal has, in the past, penalized developers for constructing environmentally damaging projects. In May, it quashed the environment clearance of a project that encroached and damaged 3 acres of lake in Bangalore and slapped Rs 117 crore fine on the developer. In July last year, the tribunal slapped a fine on Akshardham Temple for carrying out expansion near Yamuna Flood Plains without an environment clearance. The Supreme Court also said in an order in January this year that housing projects coming up without environment clearance were illegal.

The latest position of the environment ministry is a break away from the past. The environment ministry, itself, reiterated in its order on November 10, 2015 that the states should follow the procedure for environment clearance for building projects “in letter and spirit.” To cut the delays, the order insisted that SEIAA will assess the project only on the “thrust environmental areas” while the rest of permissions should be dealt with by the local authorities. The order came after a series of reviews of the need of environment clearance for building projects in the environment ministry including by a High-Level Committee (see box: ‘flip flop flip’).

The latest notification and the change in the ministry’s stance has come after hectic discussions between the environment ministry, the urban development ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the representatives of the construction industry, said an official in the environment ministry. The documents, accessed by HT, indicate the environment ministry sent a proposal to the ministry of urban development in February “regarding incorporation of environmental guidelines in the building bylaws” and the matter was treated by the two ministries as “urgent and important.”

The environment ministry’s notification stresses upon government’s efforts for “ensuring Ease of Doing Responsible Bussiness, and streamlining the permissions for buildings and construction sector”, which, it says, is important for providing “affordable housing to weaker section in urban area.” However, rather than making exemptions for affordable houses which are often smaller than 20,000 sq meters, it exempts all big construction projects such as shopping malls, multiplexes and office complexes.

When asked for the reason of change in the ministry’s stand, Manoj Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary in the Environment Ministry, said in an email reply “The draft notification dated 29.04.2016 proposes to integrate the standard and objectively monitorable environmental conditions with the building permissions starting from built up area of 5000 sq. mtrs. and above. The number of buildings in this category and cumulative built up area of such buildings is much larger than buildings of 20000 sq. mtrs. and more. So here idea is to make more buildings follow the environmental norms.” He insisted the proposed notification will not take out these buildings (20000 sq. mtrs to 150000 sq. mtrs.) from the purview of EIA Notification, 2006 and E (P) Act. “It proposes to integrate these standard environmental conditions with the building permissions,” he added.

CHANGING STANCE

  • 2004 Construction sector brought under the purview of the Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • 2006 EIA Notification, 2006 mandated building projects of more 20,000 sq meters should carry out green assessment
  • 2009 The ministry proposed to exempt projects up to 50,000 sq meters from requirement, but proposal dropped due to environmental concerns
  • Dec 2012 The environment ministry constituted a committee to review the provisions of Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
  • June 2013 Environment ministry accepts panel’s recommendations
  • April 2016 Ministry issues draft notification to replace environment clearance for building projects
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Gurnam Singh Chaduni. (Facebook)
Gurnam Singh Chaduni. (Facebook)

Gurnam Chaduni: The firebrand behind the farmers’ protests

By Zia Haq
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 03:35 PM IST
Chaduni, the leader of the Haryana unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union, organised one of the first meetings in September in Haryana’s Pipli village to protest against the three laws
Close
A view of Supreme Court. (HT Photo)
A view of Supreme Court. (HT Photo)

Supreme Court refuses protection to makers of web series Tandav

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 03:23 PM IST
The bench observed, “Your right to freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot play the role of a character that hurts the sentiments of a community.”
Close
The UAE registered the Sinopharm vaccine after finding it had a 86% efficacy rate, paving the way for a full public use and allowing for a re-opening of the Gulf nation’s economy.(REUTERS (Representative Image))
The UAE registered the Sinopharm vaccine after finding it had a 86% efficacy rate, paving the way for a full public use and allowing for a re-opening of the Gulf nation’s economy.(REUTERS (Representative Image))

AP dentist falls ill after Covid-19 vaccination; not due to jab, says official

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST
P Ratnavali, district medical and health officer (DMHO) of Prakasam, said the dentist Dhana Lakshimi was having infection in urinary tract and liver while taking the vaccine shot on December 23 at the government general hospital here.
Close
Tandav web show stars Saif Ali Khan and Dimple Kapadia in prominent roles.
Tandav web show stars Saif Ali Khan and Dimple Kapadia in prominent roles.

'Freedom of speech not absolute': SC tells makers of web series 'Tandav'

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 03:06 PM IST
The web series is facing criminal cases for hurting religious sentiments and insulting religion punishable under Sections 153A and 295 of Indian Penal Code.
Close
Asked if the farmers' protest has lost its credibility after the violence witnessed in Delhi here, the senior BJP leader said, "Those who are leading the protest should introspect why such an incident happened."(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT photo)
Asked if the farmers' protest has lost its credibility after the violence witnessed in Delhi here, the senior BJP leader said, "Those who are leading the protest should introspect why such an incident happened."(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT photo)

No one should do politics over violence: Fadnavis on R-Day farmers' protest

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:52 PM IST
Speaking to PTI, Fadnavis condemned the violence and said farm leaders leading the protest should introspect why such violence took place.
Close
Farmers reach Red fort during their tractor rally on Republic Day, in Delhi . (ANI)
Farmers reach Red fort during their tractor rally on Republic Day, in Delhi . (ANI)

Farmer unions blame KMSC for digressing from route, taking rally to Red Fort

By Anil Sharma
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:20 PM IST
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee has also been flayed on social media for distancing itself from the decision of the other farmer unions
Close
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

BJP MLA blames Sonia Gandhi, Rahul for tractor parade violence, Cong hits back

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:40 PM IST
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday night, the BJP MLA said, "The act of violence during tractor parade is condemnable. A case of sedition should be lodged and strict action should be taken against those involved in the act".
Close
On December 4, the Trump administration opted not to grant TikTok-owner ByteDance a new extension of an order requiring the company to divest TikTok’s US assets(REUTERS)
On December 4, the Trump administration opted not to grant TikTok-owner ByteDance a new extension of an order requiring the company to divest TikTok’s US assets(REUTERS)

After TikTok ban ByteDance says cutting India workforce, unsure of comeback

Reuters, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:34 PM IST
The ban dates from last year when political tension between the neighbours rose over their disputed border.
Close
In 2006 Mumbai blasts, 188 people were killed and 829 injured. In this photograph, police recover bodies from a blast site.(HT File Photo)
In 2006 Mumbai blasts, 188 people were killed and 829 injured. In this photograph, police recover bodies from a blast site.(HT File Photo)

State there is no 2009 report on 2006 Mumbai train blasts case: HC to IB

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:29 PM IST
The order came on a plea moved by Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddique, who has been awarded capital punishment for the 2006 serial blasts when seven bombs ripped through as many Western line local trains in Mumbai, seeking an IB report of 2009 purportedly calling for review of evidence in the case.
Close
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

‘No sexual assault’ in minor’s groping: Supreme Court stays Bombay HC order

By Abraham Thomas
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:22 PM IST
The HC order had held that groping a minor girl without touching her skin did not amount to sexual assault under POCSO Act
Close
The incident occured when the security forces were engaged in combing operations following information that a team of Maoists was moving in the forests of Chennapuram . (Image used for representation).(FILE PHOTO.)
The incident occured when the security forces were engaged in combing operations following information that a team of Maoists was moving in the forests of Chennapuram . (Image used for representation).(FILE PHOTO.)

24 Maoists surrender in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district

By HT Correspondent, Raipur
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:02 PM IST
  • Lon Varratu drive was launched in June 2020, and till now, 272 Maoists, including senior cadres, have surrendered in Dantewada district.
Close
The gathering of protesters at the Red Fort on Wednesday for which all farmers' unions are now laming Deep Sidhu.(PTI)
The gathering of protesters at the Red Fort on Wednesday for which all farmers' unions are now laming Deep Sidhu.(PTI)

News updates from HT: Farm leaders' meet to fix responsibility over R-Day riots

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:03 PM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis, and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

'Dangerous...': What KK Venugopal said about 'no skin touch, no assault' verdict

By hindustantimes.com, HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:01 PM IST
The verdict was passed on January 19 by Justice Pushpa Ganediwala where it was said that there must be skin-to-skin contact with sexual intent for an act to be considered sexual assault.
Close
Jayalalithaa’s memorial in Chennai. (File photo)
Jayalalithaa’s memorial in Chennai. (File photo)

Sasikala released; AIADMK puts up show of strength at Jayalalithaa’s memorial

By Divya Chandrababu
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 12:45 PM IST
chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami inaugurated a 80-crore phoenix-themed memorial for Jayalalithaa on the Marina beach where she is buried
Close
The bench, during the hearing, also said that the Constitution says the final notification may not be translated in all the languages, but it does not say anything about the draft which is put out for receiving public opinion.
The bench, during the hearing, also said that the Constitution says the final notification may not be translated in all the languages, but it does not say anything about the draft which is put out for receiving public opinion.

Delhi HC questions Centre's resistance to draft EIA in all vernacular languages

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 12:32 PM IST
A special bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said the government would have to understand the objections in local languages to the draft EIA and therefore, "what was the harm in translating it in all the 22 languages".
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP