Govt. of India has vide Notification published on 22nd December 2014 has exempted Educational Institutions [Schools, Colleges, Hostels] from seeking Environmental Clearance, however maintaining a sustainable balance with a rider that the Educational Institutions would ensure compliance with environmental management, solid and liquid waste Management, rain water harvesting and adopting recyclable material and procedures.
Post the enactment of Environmental Protection Act, in the year 1986, Government of India had vide Notification dated 27th January 1994 had laid down certain norms and conditions for undertaking construction considering the possible impact on the ecological balance.
Later, acting in accordance with the National Environment Policy as approved by the Union Cabinet on 18th May, 2006 and the procedure specified in the notification, Government of India decided to amend the rules laid down in Notification of 27th January 1994 and published a draft Notification on 15thSeptember 2005 proposing to impose certain restrictions and prohibitions on new projects or activities, or on the expansion or modernization of existing projects or activities based on their potential environmental impacts unless prior environmental clearance has been accorded in accordance with National Environment Policy.
The draft Notification came to Notified on 14.09.2006 which provided that any construction activity which is more than 2,00,000 sq. ft., cannot be undertaken without prior Environmental Clearance of the appropriate authorities. This limitation was further expanded to include a construction project, which has “potential” of total construction of more than 2,00,000 sq. ft. Educational Institutions were also covered within the scope of the construction project.
Green Clearance had its own share of controversy as the permissions were delayed inordinately either due to cumbersome procedure or due to variable technical reasons. It affected the academic cycle of an educational institute as delay of even few months meant admission could not be done for a particular academic session. Several Court rulings had laid down adherence to strict time lines for commencement and conclusion of an academic calendar.
Later this year, on 13th September 2014, Government of India published a draft Notification seeking to further amend the earlier Notification of 14thSeptember 2006 and inviting objections from the affected parties.
Finally, vide Notification dated 22nd December 2014, though maintaining the requirement of Environmental Clearance for Building or Construction projects or Area Development projects and Townships, it excluded school, college, hostel for educational institution [covering built area less than 1,50,000 mts. and/or land area less then 50 ha] from the definition of projects or activities but prescribed that such building shall ensure sustainable environmental management, solid and liquid waste management, rain water harvesting and may use recycled materials such as fly ash bricks.
This is certainly a significant progressive step in easing the green norms. A standard educational institution with basic facilities and amenities generally crossed the benchmark and had to wait for green clearance earlier. Now, the Educational Institutions, unlike other sectors, which heavily depend on a particular time cycle for its activities would really stand benefitted.
Achhe Din for Educational Institutions !!!