The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi order has realty in a flap

Rajarhat's real estate boom has received a jolt with the Union ministry of environment and forests informing the state pollution control board that environmental clearance for all major constructions post-July 2004 must now be obtained from New Delhi (as reported by The Telegraph on Sunday).

The central notification casts a cloud over both residential and commercial constructions ' with an investment of Rs 50 crore or above or discharging sewage of 50,000 litres per day and more or accommodating 1,000 persons or more ' that had not come up to plinth level by the notification date.

The realty lobby is in a flap, as this directive cancels the state government's earlier assurance that individual projects in Rajarhat needed no central sanction as the entire township had got a 'no-objection nod' from the state board prior to the July '04 notification.

'Each of these projects will have to go through the process individually, we don't have much to do about it,' admitted R.K. Tripathy, managing director, Hidco, the nodal agency for Rajarhat.

Rahul Todi of Bengal Shrachi, which has more than one Rajarhat project in the pipeline, said: 'These are brakes being put on the industry. There has to be rationalisation of policies. It is extremely confusing for us, since we do not know whether the blanket approval for New Town will be applicable at all.'

Bengal Unitech, developing a model residential township over 100 acres, with an additional 50 acres for IT and ITES facilities and retail, is also confused at the sudden development. 'There has to be a single-window clearance which, ideally, has to be given by the state departments concerned,' added Sameer Bahri, head, eastern region.

According to the central green directive, each construction project yet to apply for a nod from Delhi will have to first apply to the state pollution control board with a proper environment impact assessment (EIA) report. The state board will conduct a public hearing on the project, the proceedings of which must be sent to the central ministry along with a provisional 'no objection certificate'.

The ministry of environment and forests will then give the green signal, failing which a project under construction can be stalled.

'A number of us have submitted our clearance applications to the state pollution control board. They have neither communicated to us that there is something wrong, nor have they facilitated the clearances by the Union ministry,' said an aggrieved developer.

Citing loss of time, money and effort, the real estate lobby plans to take up the issue with both the state government and the Union ministry, through Credai, the nodal body for real estate developers. 'We will hold a joint meeting and Credai will take up the issue,' said Todi.

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