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BMC gets new environment cell for speedy project clearances within Mumbai

Mumbai city news: The notification was issued on Monday and the first meeting of the cell has been scheduled for next week.

mumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2017 13:11 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,BMC,enviornmental clearance

Mumbai now has a new environment clearance (EC) authority after the civic body setup a six-member committee called the environment cell, which will be looking at quick processing of project proposals.

No-objection certificates (NOCs) or clearances are required under environment impact notification (required for projects spanning over 20,000 square metres), which takes around seven to nine months, and the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance that takes four to six months. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants to reduce this to not more than 94-100 days, said officials.

The notification was issued on Monday and the first meeting of the cell has been scheduled for next week.

Separate from an environment department that studied environmental problems, which was discarded by the BMC last year; this cell will only look at EC’s. The cell consists of three BMC officers that are experts in waste management (solid and liquid), water conservation and management, and transport planning and management.

Three members from outside the corporation, who are former BMC officers, are also part of the cell . These officers will focus on fields such as environment planning including air quality management, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and resource efficiency including building materials.

“Following two notifications issued, one in December last year by the central government and the other by the state government in April this year, the corporation was directed to have their own cell with experts in six separate fields to check whether project proposals are adhering to environmental norms under these six parameters,” said a senior civic official responsible for putting together the cell. “Under the Centre’s objective of ‘ease of doing business’, the speed at which project proposals are cleared needs to be shortened and thus the onus has been shifted to the corporation level.”

According to the notification from April 13 from the state government, projects up to 5,000 sqm, do not require EC. From 5000 to 20,000 sqm, a self-certification through proper accreditation from the civic body is needed. Above 20,000 sqm to 1,50,000 sqm projects require mandatory clearance under environmental norms from this cell. The cell will list an EIA report and take a decision on whether a project is feasible. The notification also specified that a minimum of three members should be from the corporation and minimum two independent experts were required to form the cell.

Prior to this, a State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), constituted by the Centre under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, was responsible for the environment impact assessment (EIA) notification and take decisions on whether a project will get an EC. Now, this will be manned by the BMC cell, only for Mumbai.

However, projects above 1,50,000 sqm still need NOCs from the state and the centre, added the civic official. “After several meetings with the civic chief, we decided that since experts in the field of waste management, water resources and transport, were available to the corporation, there was no need to look elsewhere. However, since air quality, energy efficiency and resource efficiency experts were unavailable to us, we reached out to independent experts,” said the civic official.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 13:11 IST