The process of getting green clearances is turning into an “official extortion cell”, Mr Navin Raheja, President, National Real Estate Development Council, said here.

Calling for doing away with green clearances for buildings, Mr Raheja suggested standard operating procedures instead. He was speaking at an event on “Green Buildings” organised by the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE).

“The series of clearances involves how much one can ‘adjust’ and ‘co-operate’ with the authorities. Some times it takes up to two years,” he said, adding that it is the common man who ends up paying for project cost escalation due to the delay.

Instead of environmental clearances for building projects, a better way could be to put standard directives or operating procedures in place. “These should be uploaded on the Internet and an approved panel can vet the building plans. This can be done at the level of the Master Plan itself,” Mr Raheja said.

He said the Government could monitor all the benchmarks such as water recycling, waste management, greening area and so on.

FLOUTING NORMS

Environment experts, however, flayed several real estate developers for selling properties with a ‘green’ tag, without getting necessary clearances.

At present, environmental impact assessment is required for only large projects with built-up area of over 20,000 square metres.

“But many realtors tend to under report their area to circumvent the environmental clearance process,” said Ms Sakshi C. Dasgupta, Deputy Programme Manager, Sustainable Building, CSE.

She called for public consultations with all stakeholders in a project’s vicinity and clear benchmarking of resource use, especially water and energy.

“The environment impact assessment for the building sector is weak and ineffective. The same kind of building plans are being cleared in diverse climates, say, in Puducherry and Gurgaon,” she added.

Environmentalist Mr Leo Saldanha said there was no need to look anywhere. “Our Constitution has all the answers. It clearly says that urban and town planning has to be done through a democratic process. Environmental clearances should be granted after consulting panchayats, municipalities, civil society, media etc,” he added.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 29, 2012)
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