Environmental Clearance: What’s that, why do builders need it?

Flooding that took place in PES campus recently. Pic: Sent by a reader.

Bangalore, with its burgeoning population, faces the challenge of providing decent housing for all. Sensing the opportunity, many builders have forayed into the field, with various real estate projects all over the city and the outskirts.

LIST OF PROJECTS OR ACTIVITIES REQUIRING PRIOR ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCE       

1     Mining, extraction of natural resources and power generation (for a specified production capacity)

  • Mining of minerals
  • Offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration and development and production
  • River Valley projects
  • Thermal Power plants
  • Nuclear power projects and processing of nuclear fuel

2     Primary Processing

  • Coal washeries
  • Mineral beneficiation

3     Materials Production

  • Metallurgical industries (ferrous & non ferrous)
  • Cement plants

4     Materials Processing

  • Petroleum refining industry
  • Coke oven plants Asbestos milling and asbestos based products
  • Chlor-alkali industry
  • Soda ash industry
  • Leather/skin/hide processing industry    

5        Manufacturing/Fabrication

  • Chemical fertilizers
  • All projects Pesticides industry and pesticide specific intermediates (excluding formulations)
  • Petro-chemical complexes (industries based on processing of petroleum fractions & natural gas and/or reforming to aromatics)
  • Manmade fibres
  • manufacturing
  • Petrochemical based processing (processes other than cracking & reformation and not covered under the complexes)
  • Synthetic organic chemicals industry (dyes & dye intermediates; bulk drugs and intermediates excluding drug formulations; synthetic rubbers; basic organic chemicals, other synthetic organic chemicals and chemical intermediates)
  • Distilleries
  • Integrated paint industry
  • Pulp & paper industry excluding manufacturing of paper from waste paper and manufacture of paper from ready pulp without bleaching
  • Sugar Industry
  • Induction/arc furnaces/cupola
  • furnaces 5TPH or more

6        Service Sectors

  • “Oil & gas transportation pipeline (crude and refinery/ petrochemical products), passing through national parks /sanctuaries/coralreefs /ecologically sensitive areas including LNG
  • Terminal “”Isolated storage & handling of hazardous chemicals (As per threshold planning quantity indicated in column 3 of schedule 2 & 3 of MSIHC Rules 1989 amended 2000)”

7      Physical Infrastructure including Environmental Services

  • Air ports All projects
  • All ship breaking yards including ship breaking units
  • All projects – – Industrial estates/ parks/ complexes/ areas, export processing Zones (EPZs), Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Biotech Parks, Leather Complexes
  • Common hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs)
  • Ports, Harbours
  • Highways
  • Aerial Ropeways
  • Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs)
  • Common Municipal Solid Waste Management Facility (CMSWMF)

8     Building /Construction projects/Area Development projects and Townships

  • Building and Construction projects
  • Townships and Area Development projects.

Come rainy season, many areas in the city get flooded, sometimes the flooding entering even apartments. One such example is an apartment in Kadugodi built on the banks of stormwater drain. Latest example is the incident that took place in PES Institutions, Electronic City. This is caused due to violation of environmental rules during construction or later.

The city has some rules and regulations in place, to ensure that the ecology of the area is not disturbed due to developments. This is to avoid PES-flooding-like situations, that take place because people ignore natural landscape and water paths, and to ensure there is enough greenery to make life liveable in the city.

In this backdrop, if a builder is starting a project of 20,000 sqm built up area or more, he needs to get an environmental clearance from the state, along with all the other permissions from BBMP, BWSSB etc.

How to get Environmental Clearance?

The application for environmental impact assessment essentially has to have details of the project like the manner of procurement of materials, usage of water and energy during construction, debris removal plan, impact on water and air,  transportation, solid waste and its mitigation steps, health and well being of construction workers to name a few.

Form 1 and Form 1A in the application format needs to be filled and submitted by the builders. In most cases, the construction companies are represented by environment consultancy firms who collate the required information, make the predictions and calculations of the environment load and mitigative measures.

Once the application is submitted, the SEAC does its due diligence, lists shortfalls if any and procures additional information where needed and finally makes appropriate recommendations to the SEIAA.

SEIAA goes through the data presented and SEAC recommendations before issuing an Environment Clearance (EC). Though clearances from other regulatory bodies or authorities are not required while applying for an EC, the applicant must obtain an No-Objection Certificate from BWSSB for assured water supply, prior to any construction activity, as water is a critical component.

In Karnataka, the SEIAA and SEAC meet at regular intervals. The minutes of these meetings are updated on the website. During these meetings, Environment Clearance can be revoked based on complaints by agencies, public or court directions. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board is often directed to ensure that no construction continues at sites that have not gotten EC.

Construction without EC is an offence

Recently, all planning and development authorities (BBMP, BDA, BMRDA, BIAAPA, KIADB and others) have been notified again by the SEIAA that projects larger than 20,000 sqm built up area had to get an Environment Clearance from the SEIAA, a state level authority, according to the 2006 EIA notification.

Starting construction of any work without an EC is an offence and violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The MoEF in a February 2014 notification has delegated powers to the SEIAA to issue directions, take cognizance of the offence and take action in case of violation of environment-related rules.

Environmenal Clearance compulsory since 2007

In 2006, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) decentralised the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and clearance process for the states, for eight categories, creating the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) in the states. In Karnataka the SEIAA and SEAC were created in June 2007 and began functioning in August 2007. The main objective of the SEIAA was appraisal, deliberations and decisions on EIA applications.

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is usually linked with projects such as mining, manufacturing, work in eco-sensitive areas and power plants among others. The eight categories (see box) are further divided into Category A and Category B based on the spatial extent of potential impacts and potential impacts on human health and natural and man made resources. Category B is for relatively smaller projects and a lesser known fact is that several construction projects undertaken in urban areas fall under Category B and they too need prior environmental clearance.

With respect to the construction industry, any project that exceeds 20,000 sqmt built up area needs a clearance from the SEIAA along with all the other permissions from the local authorities and service providers. The Manual on norms and standards for environment clearance of large construction projects lists out the procedures to be followed.

20,000sqmt = 2,15,278.21 sqft

2,15,278.21sqft = 165 double-bedroom units of ~1300sqft

Chart comparing the area of buildings that require environmental clearance to a two-bed room flat.

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About Josephine Joseph 46 Articles

Josephine Joseph researches and writes on urban governance, civic and environmental issues in Bangalore City, from a ‘citizen’ point of view.