The Telegraph
Friday , August 1 , 2014
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Green glare on big buildings
- Bar on PMC in construction orders

The National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, on Wednesday asked Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) not to issue construction order or completion certificate to buildings having built-up area of more than 20,000sqm.

The intention is to tighten the noose on construction activities that violate environment norms. The order came during hearing of a petition (No. 17/2014) filed against construction of annexe building of Vidhan Sabha without mandatory green clearance. Construction work on the building was stopped in March after the matter came to light. The Telegraph had highlighted the issue in its editions dated February 4 and February 8.

During hearing of the petition on Wednesday, the National Green Tribunal’s Eastern Zonal Bench, Kolkata, comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and Professor P.C. Mishra, directed PMC commissioner Kuldip Narayan to be present in person on the next date of hearing (September 1).

The Eastern Zonal Bench also asked the municipal commissioner to present a copy of the master plan for Patna, if any, at the next hearing. The state cabinet on July 25 declared the Patna Plan Area under the proposed master plan to be spread over 1,167sqkm against the existing 250sqkm. The declared Patna Plan Area would comprise of 13 blocks spread over five urban local bodies including Patna Municipal Corporation, nagar panchayats of Danapur, Phulwarisharif, Maner and Fatuha.

The bench also directed the municipal commissioner to furnish details of any ongoing construction on the flood plain of the Ganga in Patna.

Several glaring examples of violations were noticed in alleged unauthorised construction of eight buildings on the banks of the Ganga. In February 2013, the civic body issued notices to architects earlier empanelled with it, to explain how they approved proposed maps of these buildings.

Patna High Court advocate Sanjay Sinha filed the petition against violation of green clearance norms in case of the annexe building and P&M Mall at Pataliputra, in January.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had laid the foundation stone for the Vidhan Sabha annexe building on January 26, 2010. The project includes construction of Vidhan Mandal building and four secretariat blocks. Three years since construction began the super structure of the building is almost ready but it has been done in violation of norms.

Sources said, Bihar State Pollution Control Board has also filed a case against state building construction department for violating green norms in construction of the Vidhan Sabha annexe building. A formal application for environmental clearance for the building submitted to State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority in February would come up for consideration at its August 9 meet.

“The annexe building of Vidhan Sabha has been built in utter violation of environment clearance norms. Its construction began without getting mandatory environmental clearance. Hence, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has decided to issue green clearance only after the building construction department submits an undertaking that such violation would not be repeated,” its chairman R.C. Sinha said.

Also, the green tribunal has asked Patna municipal commissioner not to issue construction order or completion certificate to buildings requiring prior environmental clearance, but SEIAA chairman R.C. Sinha said they would continue to receive applications for such projects and review them for approval.

The SEIAA, in existence in Bihar since March 2011, was reconstituted earlier this month after expiry of its three-year term on February 8.

The petition also seeks from state chief secretary a list of buildings being or already built in Patna in over 20,000 sqm. As per a ministry of environment and forests notification in 2006, buildings being built in 20,000 sqm or more require prior green clearance from the ministry or SEIAA.

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