Matters concerned with Environment

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Environment Ministry gets tough on Tata Camelot at Chandigarh

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News
Chandigarh, February 26
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has toughened its stand over granting clearance to the multi-tower high-rise Tata Camelot project proposed to come up next to the Sukhna Lake here.

For an environmental clearance now, the ministry has said, the project would require a go-ahead from the forestry and wildlife angle, including an okay from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

Also, the MoEF has referred the case (for environmental clearance to the project) to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee, Punjab. The move follows as Punjab reconstituted its committee by including new members and thus completing the requisite quorum for granting environmental clearances.

However, the MoEF has said that the state EIA committee may consider the inspection report prepared by a team of the ministry last month, and may consult the members of this inspection team before granting any clearance. Notably, the Tata Housing officials had earlier claimed that they had obtained all clearances from various departments.

Official sources said as the Camelot project site was only 123 metres (on the northern side and 183 metres on the eastern side) away from the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, the project proponent (Tata Housing Development Company in this case) will require a prior green signal from the National Board for Wildlife -- chaired by the prime minister.

And as the Camelot project site is adjacent to the sanctuary, it is bound to create noise and air pollution in the area, besides resulting in heavy human habitation in the high-rise buildings. All these factors were likely to impact the sanctuary.

Based on The Tribune reports on how rules were bent by the Punjab Government for a go-ahead to the project, with 102 state politicians on board, the MoEF had ordered an inquiry into the housing venture. An inspection was conducted by a six-member MoEF team last month, which verified the distance of the project site from the sanctuary and also found that the Camelot site fell under the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake.

According to rules, for any project that is proposed within a distance of 10 km of a national park or wildlife sanctuary, a special condition is stipulated that the environmental clearance is subject to their obtaining prior clearance from the forestry and wildlife angle, including clearance from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife. The rules also say that the grant of environment clearance does not necessarily imply that forestry and wildlife clearance shall be granted to the project. Their application for forestry and wildlife clearance would be considered as per merit.

These guidelines, which form part of the EIA Notification, 2006 (via office memorandum issued in 2009), also say that any investment made in the project, based on environmental clearance granted in anticipation of the clearance from forestry and wildlife angle, shall be entirely at the cost and risk of the project proponent and the MoEF shall not be responsible for this

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