Lake buffer zone: Builders want green OKs reassessed

In February, the apex court issued an order reversing the National Green Tribunal's order to maintain a 75-metre buffer zone around lakes, which the Karnataka government had challenged in the court. (DH File Photo)

Builders are asking the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) if green clearance issued to them could be revisited after the Supreme Court reversed the NGT buffer zone order. 

In February, the apex court issued an order reversing the National Green Tribunal's order to maintain a 75-metre buffer zone around lakes, which the Karnataka government had challenged in the court. 

"Builders have been enquiring if they can reapply for fresh environmental clearance or if existing clearance could be modified," an SEIAA officer said. "The enquiries are of two categories: the ones that have obtained clearance and the ones applied recently. Around 25 clearances were given in 2017-18, but now around 30 enquiries have come so far." 

The officer said builders are now reviewing all their projects, including the ones designated for expansion. This is the first time such reviews are happening. Some builders are also confused about the order. 

Following the NGT order, the SEIAA asked builders to reassess their applications to comply with the stipulations or face rejection. It issued clearances based on the NGT specifications of leaving a 75-metre buffer zone around lakes and a 50-metre space around rajakaluves (stormwater drains. The authority is yet to issue new clearances for new projects after the Supreme Court order. 

Vijaykumar Gogi, member secretary, SEIAA, said he was yet to receive any enquiries. He, however, said people could seek modifications on projects that were yet to begin construction, though nothing much could be done once construction had begun. He said the applications will be relooked into by the committee. 

"They could come back (for reassessment) if there's a change in the plan that allows for modification," Gogi said. He did not see a need for fresh notification, clarification or new order by the Urban Development Department since the NGT order, which superseded it, has been reversed by the Supreme Court.

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