Builders — private and government alike — have allegedly flouted environment norms in the past few years.
According to a petition filed by an advocate with the National Green Tribunal, at least two buildings — P&M Mall and the Assembly annexe — have not applied for getting the mandatory environmental clearance before starting the projects.
As per a notification issued by the Union ministry of environment and forest in 2006, all buildings getting constructed over an area of 20,000 square metres or above are required to get prior environmental clearance either from it or State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
Sanjay Sinha, an advocate of Patna High Court, has filed the petition (No. 17/2014) seeking a list of all buildings in the city getting constructed or already built over the area of 20,000 square metres from the chief secretary. “There seems to be blatant violation of environmental norms regarding construction activities in the state. The norm mandating prior environmental clearance for buildings having built-up area of 20,000 square metres or more does not seem to be getting followed either by private developers or even the state government,” said Sinha.
During the first hearing of the petition on January 31, the principal bench of National Green Tribunal comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and Melath Sasidharan Nambiar made the ministry a party to the case and fixed the hearing on March 10.
Sinha added that the petition also mentions the violation of the environmental norms in construction of several multi-storied buildings beyond the flood protection wall of Patna along the Ganga.
However, the persons involved in it denied charges. “The actual built-up area of the structure of P&M Mall is around 1,80,000 square feet (16722.54 square metres) and rest of the area is open space and setback area. Moreover, the mall is located in Patliputra Industrial Area where separate industrial norms have been put in place. We have complied with all these. We have necessary clearances from the Bihar State Pollution Control Board regarding water and sound-proof generator sets among others,” said Vijay Nath Mishra, general manager, P&M Mall.
The Assembly annexe building is being developed by the state building construction department. Chanchal Kumar, the secretary of the department, said on Sunday: “I will check with the consultant and engineers and will go through the respective files on Monday before an official reply. All other projects have clearances.”
R.C. Sinha, chairperson, SEIAA, admitted slackness in implementation of the environmental norms.
“There was not much awareness regarding the rule. However, we held several meetings with the Builders’ Association of India in this regard and asked them to ensure strict adherence to the norms,” said Sinha.