Environmental rules could hold India back

India’s Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is flexing its muscles and insisting that all major construction projects in the country conform to strict environmental standards.

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By  Eudore Chand Published  December 11, 2003

India’s Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is flexing its muscles and insisting that all major construction projects in the country conform to strict environmental standards. In October, the central Ministry made environment impact assessment compulsory for residential construction projects housing more than 1000 people and generating more than 50 000 litres of wastewater per day. Similar constraints will govern the approval of industrial projects. This would delay such projects by more than one year because of the elaborate process involved, according to KP Niyati, head of the Environment Management Division of the Confederation of Indian Industry. When the new approval processes are applied, all approvals for construction projects could stop for up to a year, argues Niyati. “In 2004, the construction industry including cement and steel, will go for a six,” he said in a Hindu Business Times report. Niyati says that the new rules are a backwards step because local authorities were already imposing sensible environmental protection rules. Being forced to “rush to Delhi” for approvals was undermining the good working being done at state government level, he added.

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