Govt dilutes green norms for big realty projects

In the name of “housing for all”, a move stipulated to help those in the economically weaker sections, the government has diluted the norms for large-scale construction activities.

In a notification issued earlier this month, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, has relieved projects over 1,50,000 sqm from seeking clearances under the existing Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.

The Ministry, according to the notification published in last week, was ensuring “ease of doing responsible business”; and streamlining the permissions for buildings and construction sector which is important for providing houses and for this purpose, the scheme of Housing for All by 2022 with an objective of making available affordable housing to weaker sections in urban area.

Environmental Lawyer, Ritwick Dutta, however, challenged this, saying: “When you talk about ‘Housing for All’, let us understand that construction under the Indira Awas Yojana (now called the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana, which provides housing for rural poor) did not need to do Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). EIA was needed for projects above 20,000 sq mt.”

This move had been in the works for months, even as the Ministry of Urban Development had announced modified building bye-laws in March. Under the new notification, builders would only need to adhere to the environmental conditions under the bye-laws — nine environmental conditions for projects in the 5,000-20,000 sq mt size; 17 in 20,000-50,000 sq mt; and 20 conditions for projects in 50,000-1,50,000 sq mt size.

Some of the conditions imposed include, solid waste management, rain water harvesting, organic waste composting, use of fly ash bricks and others.

Projects within these dimensions would only need a nod from local municipal authorities, under State laws, without the need for an EIA or clearances under the existing protective laws.

Incidentally, construction activities were one of the first to be banned during the recent spike in pollution levels in the city, due to the massive burden of pollutants that the sector is responsible for.

“At a time when you need the greatest amount of restriction on the construction sector, the government has completely dismantled it,” Dutta said.

He said now, since these projects would not need to comply with Central laws, such projects cannot be challenged in the National Green Tribunal either.

Not a single case registered under Air Act in most polluted metro

NEW DELHI: Delhi might have been at the heart of campaigns against pollution, but not a single case was registered here for violation of the Air Act in 2015. Of the 50 cases filed across the country, 42 were in Maharashtra alone. While this data was released earlier this year as a part of a National Crime Records Bureau report, lawyers on Thursday highlighted how despite being armed with a criminal law, pollution control boards had failed abysmally to act. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, provides for a punishment of not less than 1.5 years for norm violations, said Ritwick Dutta, advocate and founder of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE). Addressing a workshop, Dutta said: "The minimum punishment under the Air Act is not less than 1.5 years, but we don't see any enforcement. There is an inherent problem because of which the provisions of the Act have failed." Elaborating on the point, he said that any industryorganisation had to apply with the pollution control boards for consent to "operate" and "consent to establish" and, for that, they paid them a fee. "The pollution control boards sustain themselves by issuing these permits," he said.

Unlike forest officers, pollution control board staff and scientists were not trained to file criminal complaints and drag violators to court. As a result, they just issued notices, requesting violators to follow rules, Dutta said. "In Maharashtra, too, 42 cases were filed under Air Act because courts had asked pollution control boards to bring violators to task," he claimed. FROM AROUND THE WEB Buy a new age comprehensive health insurance Religare Health Insurance Get up to 80% off | Top deals,coupons, offers Invest your idle cash in our liquid funds Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund MORE FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA Office Christmas Party: Official trailer 2 Collateral Beauty: Official trailer #1 China experience wasn't fruitful: Uber CEO FROM THE WEB MORE FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA Nescafe vending solution for your office By The new Fiat Avventura ­ starting @ ₹ 7.25 lakh* Fiat Avventura Luxury holiday in Fiji was never so easy! SOTC Germany­Your partner in research & innovation DWIH Own a Vento today. Pay EMI 2018 onward* Volkswagen India Rahul Gandhi meets PM Modi over farmers' demands Ranveer Singh's yet another unusual party avatar Hrithik Roshan­Sussanne Khan get together for a dinner date Aditi Ashok wins inaugural Qatar Ladies Open Highlights: OPPO Chandigarh Times Fresh Face 2016 US EPA and environmen tal regulators in many other countries have a civil law where they take the violator to court and can seek monetary compensation. In India, governments can, however, register a civil case under National Green Tribunal Act. "Governments can invoke Schedule­II of NGT Act. If others can use this Act, why can't they?" Lawyers also gave a bre ak­up of various cases heard in the five NGT courts ­about 250 cases are heard every day by each of them. About 25% of the cases heard by NGT are on various aspects of air pollution, 20% each on water pollution, environment impact assessment and waste, 10% on forests and 5% others. Under the head of air pollution, the issues range from vehicular pollution, brick kilns and stone crushers, thermal power plants, waste­to­energy plants, construction projects and agricultural and forest fires. "A majority of the cases from Kolkata and Bihar are against brick kilns," said Dutta.

NTPC to replace 11000MW Thermal Power Plants older than 25 years with Energy Efficient Super Critical Plants

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal, exhorted people to spread awareness about energy conservation and help improve environmental equilibrium. He was speaking at a function today to celebrate the 26th National Energy Conservation Day 2016.

Shri Goyal said that the Nation has embarked on a mission to reduce India’s carbon footprint by phasing out all inefficient thermal power plants, older than 25 years, with modern energy efficient super critical ones. NTPC has already given the in-principle clearance to replace around 11,000 MW of its old, inefficient thermal power plants. The plants would be replaced in about five years, with an investment of around Rs. 50,000 crores, he added.

Time and again, EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC) has been pointing to the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) not grant expansion of old TPPs unless they agree to phase out the old units. The replace of the old plants would be a welcome step.

(Source : Press Information Bureau release dated 14 December 2016  : )


Pushp Jain

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

New Delhi. India

Web:; Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

618 people paid compensation for Mopa land

Six hundred and eighteen people were paid compensation with respect to land acquired for Mopa Airport in Goa.

According to Member of Parliament Shantaram Naik, who was informed by Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, the rate at which the compensation was paid ranged from Rs 25 to Rs 80 per sq mtr.

Total area acquired by Government of Goa for construction of airport is 78,41,730 sq mtr. The number of occupants/tenants entitled for compensation with respect to the land is 7869. A total of 87 people had applied for enhanced compensation.

Area marked for commercial utilisation was 381 acres which was 18.2 per cent of the total project area, Minister told Mr Naik in the Rajya Sabha.

The proposed greenfield airport is to be built at Mopa in Pernem taluka in North Goa district in the the state. UNI AKM JW SNU 1847

WII to release a guidance document on mitigation of impacts due to linear projects - on 16 December 2016

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had assigned the responsibility to prepare the Guidance Document on ‘Eco-friendly measures to mitigate negative impacts on wildlife values from linear infrastructure development projects’ to the Wildlife Institute of India.

This is being planned for release on 16 December, 2016 from 1100 hrs to 1230 hrs  in Lecture Room I, Annexe of the India International Centre, New Delhi.

Click here for the letter of invitation from WII