Information shared by MoEF under RTI is minimal and partial. Further it took MoEF far more than a month to respond to the two RTIs filed by CSE. It makes mockery of the appraisal process as evident in the wide gap between information sought by us and the amount of information shared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF- GoI). This opaqueness must go if cities have to demonstrate their progress towards sustainability.
Keep watching this space for more such revelations!
High impact resource guzzling buildings can damage local environment, threaten sustainability of cities. These buildings require environment impact assessment. But this fails to make a difference as rigorous assessment and public scrutiny becomes nearly impossible without adequate information in the public domain. Civil society resorts to Right to Information Act to access information.
Under the EIA rules Category B includes building and township projects (see table) which require prior Environmental clearance from the state level authorities and committees. The Ministry of Environment and Forests seems to present a gross underestimation of building projects that have applied or have been granted Environmental clearances since 2006. Partial data available only for a few states indicate that the buildings that come for EIA clearance runs into thousands a year with huge area coverage. According to CSE’s latest report ‘Buildings: Earthscrapers Environment Impact Assessment of Buildings’, only in one state of Haryana, about 927 building projects have been reviewed for environmental clearance between 2008-2011 (see report).