Clearing proposals submitted by auto giants Fiat and Mercedes-Benz for their expansion projects, the State Environment Assessment Committee has set a condition. They should build toilets in 53 schools and supply clean water to 50 schools without using electricity, as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The State Environment Assessment Committee (SCAC) cleared the proposals after considering their likely impact on environment, along with certain pointers to compensate for the “externality” — the pollution additional production of vehicles would bring in with more vehicles hitting the roads.
The expansion project of Mercedes-Benz India Ltd at MIDC, Chakan, Phase III will roll out 9,000 more vehicles. Fiat India Automobiles expansion project at Ranjangaon will increase production by 10,000 vehicles. Looking at the increase in pollution this could cause, the committee under SEAC incorporated the conditions.
“They are making more vehicles and should carry out corporate social responsibility for pollution caused. The SEAC directed these companies to follow norms. They have to provide toilet facilities and clean drinking water without using electricity,” said an official.
“While Fiat will have to provide toilet facilities for 53 schools in the district, the other auto giant will provide drinking water at about 50 schools,” said environment department officials.
The auto giants had sought clearances for the projects about two months back and they were cleared in the 89th meeting of SEAC recently. In a detailed Environment Impact Assessment report all aspects of air and water pollution, as well as water treatment, paint shops were studied for likely impact on environment. The proposals were cleared after declaring that all aspects were satisfactory.
Fiat is spread on 8.5 lakh square metre area at Ranjangaon, and Benz on 4 lakh square metre at Chakan.
Meanwhile, the Union government on Wednesday agreed to set up an environment regulator vested with powers to appraise industrial projects but with no powers to penalise violators. This follows inter-ministerial and inter-state consultations over the months after an SC order to set up an autonomous body for appraising and penalising offenders.