BENGALURU: The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has denied environmental clearance to 10 mega construction projects –including upmarket apartment complexes -in the city, for alleged encroachment of lakes and drains. An environmental clearance by the SEIAA is mandatory for projects with built-up area above 20,000 sqm.
SEIAA’s list of projects on hold are Oracle India, Brigade Enterprises, Sterling Developers, Nitesh Estates, Farah Builders. TGR Projects, Alliance Venture Group, Krishna Enterprises, Radiant Structures and Esteem Alchemy.
The Authority is coming down heavily on builders for violations of the buffer zone (as per the May 4 National Green Tribunal (NGT) order) and in the wake of the state government’s ongoing demolition drive to clear rajakaluve encroachments.
In a ruling, NGT barred construction activity within 75m from the periphery of water bodies, 50m from the edge of primary drains, 35m from secondary and 25m from tertiary drains. In the dock is Sterling Infinia, an upcoming residential apartment with 344 units, near Agara junction. SEIAA found -through village maps -that a nala from Agara lake leading to Bellandur lake runs through the project site. As much as 3 guntas of canal land was granted to Sterling Developers through a government order dated November 23, 2013 by the Siddaramaiah regime itself.
“In this case, what happens to maintenance of buffer zone as per the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order? The (Sterling) project will not be cleared till we get a legal opinion,” SEIAA member-secretary Ramachandra said. Sterling Developers could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts. Nitesh Virgin Island, another upcoming residential project with 723 units on Old Madras Road has been flagged for alleged encroachment of the adjacent Yele Mallappa Shetty lake land.
WRONG MAPS APPROVED?
“Google map imagery clearly shows the area of water impoundment is covered. We have issued a notice to Nitesh Estates,” Ramachandra said.
Nitesh Estates chairman and managing director (CMD) Nitesh Shetty confirmed receipt of a notice, but denied encroaching the lake. “Google imagery can show anything anywhere. We have a revenue map approved by the deputy commissioner. There is no lake encroachment,” he said.
Earlier this month, the BBMP began a demolition drive on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s orders. Scores of families, who lived in their homes for decades, were rendered roofless overnight in the drive.
NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS DOWN
SEIAA has issued only 42 environmental clearances for projects in Bengaluru after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order as the number of applications have come down, Ramachandra said.
“Also, those who applied before the NGT order are not pursuing their applications, or are making changes to their project design.”
However, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI, Bengaluru) Secretary S Suresh Hari said the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order would not affect current projects. “We are before the Supreme Court in this matter,” he said.
Author; Bharath Joshi with inputs from Sobia Khan
Credits ET Realty