240 infra projects hit as process to give green nod stalls in Maharashtra
Any construction more than 20,000 sqm requires an environment clearance, not just to ensure it is not harming any ecologically sensitive region, but also to assess the project’s overall impact on air, water and density it creates and ensure there is no strain on existing infrastructure.mumbai Updated: Feb 03, 2017 09:00 IST
In what might considerably slow down the pace of several infrastructure, real estate and industrial projects in the state, the process to appraise such works for environment clearance has come to a complete halt since October, directly impacting at least 240 projects.
The panels that are supposed to appraise these projects have crossed their tenure, and are in need of reconstitution by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Without a valid environment clearance, authorities in charge of these projects cannot begin construction. The projects impacted include the redevelopment of Grant Medical College and JJ Group of Hospitals, work on the Harilal Bhagwati hospital in Borivli, an eye and cancer hospital in Wadala, road works in the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation, an international exhibition and convention centre at Pimpri-Chinchwad, the revamp of the RBI quarters at Chembur, among others.
Any construction more than 20,000 sqm requires an environment clearance, not just to ensure it is not harming any ecologically sensitive region, but also to assess the project’s overall impact on air, water and density it creates and ensure there is no strain on existing infrastructure. These are first screened for a preliminary nod by a State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), and later a state-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), which issues a final clearance.
Maharashtra has three SEACs, one to appraise real estate and infrastructure projects within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, one for the rest of the state, and one to specifically vet industrial and mining projects. All the three SEACs and the SEIAA are in need of reconstitution.
A senior official from the state environment department said, “We have already written to the Union government seeking reconstitution of the panels and nominated members, but there is some disagreement on what the maximum age of the committee members should be. That is causing the delay.”
The delay has directly stalled 240 projects that had already received a go-ahead from the respective SEAC and were just one step away from a final environment clearance, pending assessment by the SEIAA.
“There are several more that are stuck at the level of the SEACs itself. These are mostly real estate construction projects across the state. If these are also counted, overall, at least 400 to 500 projects must be affected by the lapsing of the environment panels,” an official from the state environment department said.
Most projects stalled because of an impending final environment clearance from the SEIAA are from the Pune, Mumbai and Thane districts. Of the 240 projects hit, 75 are from Pune, including large residential real estate projects, townships, expansion of industrial units and so on. Another 64 are from Mumbai, mostly slum redevelopment and other redevelopment works, including the revamp of a crumbling Bombay Improvement Trust chawl at Chandanwadi, and other infrastructure works. Besides, 39 more are stuck in Thane.
Several industrial and real-estate projects from areas such as Navi Mumbai, Palghar, Jalna, Solapur, Nashik, Latur, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Kolhapur and Sangli, among others, have also taken a hit.