Pendency has come down from 350 five months ago to 220
Nearly 220 project proposals for construction within the Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR), a vast majority of them being residential, are pending for want of environmental clearance from the state environment panel. However, the number of such proposals stuck has drastically come down from almost 350 about five months ago after members of the panel decided to take swift action to speed up clearances.
The situation improved after the State-level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), a technical committee of civil engineers and environmentalists, decided to set up a second committee to specifically consider proposals for MMR and clear cases expeditiously.
In the five meetings that the SEAC-II has held since August, it has heard 129 proposals and recommended 27 for environmental clearance. Notable among these have been clearance for a residential building at BKC by Starlight Systems, a five-star hotel — Shangrila — at Lower Parel, a high-rise by Kalpataru Real Estate at Parel, a residential project ‘RNA Exotica’ at Goregaon and expansion to residential townships being undertaken by Lodha in Thane district.
“The situation is better now as we have been holding one or two meetings every month. A meeting is for three days. We started with a backlog of 350 cases,” said Ravi Bhushan Budhiraja, chairman of the SEAC-II.
“We have also cut down on site visits. Our members go on a site visit only if we feel that the proposal can be adequately understood by doing so,” he added.
Bhalachandra Patil, a member on the committee, said earlier, the SEAC meonce a month and eight to 10 cases were heard per meeting. “Now, we ensure that we hear about 12 project proposals on each day of the meeting. Another factor that has helped is Mumbai-based members on the committee who have worked with organisations like MHADA and BMC and are aware of the characteristics of the city in detail. This helps in understanding proposals and dealing with them faster,” he added.
According to norms of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, all construction projects over 20,000 sq m need to be examined by state panels for environmental impact the project may have on its surroundings and suggest measures to mitigate this impact. The SEAC studies these proposals, conducts site visits and hearings to decide if the proposals are to be recommended for clearance to the State Environment Impact Assessment