Environment Impact Assessment for Buildings: Kid's gloves

Hell broke lose when the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued the January 19 2009 draft notification of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) rules to exclude construction projects including the housing projects, commercial and retail construction that are less than 50,000 sq. mt. of built-up area from the ambit of the Environment Impact Assessment and the Environment Protection Act 1986.

This was an attempt to extend the limit of 20,000 sq meters to more than 50,000 sq meters and thus make the EIA process ineffectual for buildings.

In face of strong public criticism and also protests from the state governments the environment ministry had to back track and eventually drop this recommendation. As there are very few projects that have area above 50,000 sq meter meant that virtually the entire building sector would move out of the pale of the EIA regulations. In fact, nearly 90 per cent of the building plans sanctioned could go off the list thus numbing the effect of the regulations.

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