About 650 proposals are stuck,the majority of them construction projects in Mumbai Metropolitan Region,due to lack of clearance from the state environment panel.
As per MoEF,all construction projects over 20,000 sq m have to be assessed by the state panels for assessing impact on environment and the proposed mitigating measures before granting it the nod.
The State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC),a technical committee of civil engineers and environmentalists,screens proposals and recommends them for clearance to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority headed by the state environment secretary.
At its monthly meeting,the SEAC noted that about 650 proposals have piled up. The panel,which takes up about eight to ten proposals each month,has decided to meet more often to clear the backlog. We have sent a proposal to the MoEF to set up a second SEAC so that files are cleared expeditiously, said an official.
Panel members state the delay is due to developers attempts at bending norms to maximize profits,resulting in same proposals being sent back and forth for revision.
The most common issue is the footprint of the project. Since most developers want to avoid going to the high-rise committee for clearance to save on time,the projects have a footprint of 80 per cent of the plot area leaving little open spaces. In many cases,there is no provision made for water supply and sanitation, said a SEAC member.
Over the years,the panel had to turn down several proposals in Mumbai for having manipulated loopholes in rules to consume maximum floor space index areas (FSI). While the standard FSI (ratio of built-up area to plot area) in Mumbai ranges from 1 to 4,many projects consume 12 to 15 FSI.
Some notable projects either delayed or denied permission by SEAC due to excess FSI consumption include DB Realtys Orchid Crown project in Prabhadevi,Indiabulls residential and commercial projects at Kalina and at Jupiter and Elphinstone mills in Lower Parel and a commercial project that is being jointly developed by Reliance Industries and Wadhwa developers at BKC.
A member said the nod delays have been caused due to revised MoEF guidelines issued two months ago that mandates that taller a building the more space it should leave for wide roads.