NGT finds ‘absurd’, MoEF notification exempting realty projects from EC

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday found a notification recently issued by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) exempting real estate projects from obtaining prior environmental clearance to be “absurd”.

It issued notices to the MoEF and the ministry of urban development (MoUD) and observed that all constructions for the time being will be subject to the tribunal’s orders in the matter.

The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by the Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity against the Centre. The environment ministry, in a recent amendment notification published on December 9, 2016 exempted building and construction projects of all sizes from the process of environment impact assessment (EIA) and prior environmental clearance before beginning construction.

For smaller projects (less than 20,000 sq metres) it even has a “self-declaration” clause, which will ensure issuance of permission from urban local bodies. For larger projects of more than 20,000 sq metre size the environmental clearance (EC) and building permission will be given by urban local bodies simultaneously in an “integrated format.” Earlier, EC was mandatory for construction projects larger than 20,000 sq metres under EIA notification 2006.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was the first urban body to make these changes in its building bye-laws even before the draft notification was published in March 2016.

But the NGT bench raised a number of questions on the legal implications of the notification. It asked how the notification could bypass air and water acts? The “consent to operate (CTO)” and “consent to establish (CTE)” are issued to all construction projects by the state pollution control boards. But this notification authorises only the urban local bodies and the experts appointed by them to issue clearances and monitor compliance of various environmental clauses mentioned in the new notification.

Advocate Sanjay Upadhyay who is representing the petitioner said, “the notification dilutes the entire EIA procedure”.

Credits ET Realty

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