NEW DELHI: An environment activist’s plea seeking quashing of a recent Environment Ministry notification exempting real estate projects from obtaining prior environmental clearance has prompted the National Green Tribunal to seek a reply from the government.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim issued notices to the ministries of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and tagged the matter along with a bunch of similar pleas being heard by different bench. This is the fourth plea in NGT challenging the December 9 notification issued by MoEF.
MoEF, in an amendment notification published on December 9, 2016, had exempted building and construction projects of all sizes from the process of environment impact assessment (EIA) and prior environmental clearance (EC) before beginning construction.
For smaller projects (less than 20,000 sq metres), it even has a “self-declaration” clause which ensures issuance of permission from urban local bodies. However, for larger projects of more than 20,000 sq m size, the EC and building permission will be given by urban local bodies simultaneously in an “integrated format”.
The plea filed by environmentalist R Sreedhar said the Expert Committee, constituted to consider objections and suggestions on the December 9 notification, summarised the objections received into seven categories.
However, the recommendations of the Committee do not cover any of the issues related to these seven categories and the panel was “grossly wrong” in coming into the conclusion for justifying the notification, the plea said.
“It is submitted that it is very disconcerting to see that only less than a thousand people of this country of 1.25 billion could respond to the call for objections and suggestions under the draft notification dated April 29,2016.
“On an issue as important as this is for every citizen, particularly because of the premise of “Housing for All” is being used, it should definitely have been a cause of concern of the Committee. The Committee has clearly overlooked the need for effective participation of the communities concerned and has assumed that they reflect the entire range of ‘stakeholders’,” the plea said.
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