How Property Buyers Can Take Charge Of Environmental Protection

Today I entered my bathroom to take bath and suddenly water from tap stopped, and the irony was it was raining like cats and dogs outside. First thought came to my mind is take my clothes and soap and go to the terrace and take bath in rainwater with natural shower. Nevertheless, water was again running through the tap in 2-3 minutes time as someone must have gone down and started the motor. What I am trying to say is we waste enough water in daily activities, and realize its importance only when we need it the most. We rely on real estate developer to provide water as per our requirements without scrutinizing his means of arranging water throughout the life cycle of project.

If you are developing real estate project with the built up area of more than 20,000 m2 then you need to take Environmental Clearance from respective State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). In every environmental clearance SEIAA recommends installation of sewage treatment plant (STP) with specific details like capacity, technology, location, and budgetary allocation. Typically the capacity of STP is more than 90% of total water requirement in the project. Now the problem is that whatever is recommended in environmental clearance seldom finds a place in implementation especially if it is related to environment pollution aspect. There can be many underlying reasons for not implementing the environmental pollution control aspects in totality. Let’s not waste our time in discussing that, as the real estate market is going through slump and we don’t want to put burden on developer for implementing environmental pollution safeguards even though it is mandatory as per environmental clearance.

Second aspect related to water is rainwater harvesting (RWH) structure which is also recommended in the environmental clearance as per the location of the project and history of rainfall in that location. Developers try to construct RWH structures in the project but sometimes find it difficult because of cost issues, though it is mandatory as per environmental clearance.

When I look at different projects and compare the implementation, I see that it is difficult for SEIAA to monitor implementation and monitoring of conditions stipulated in environmental clearance. It is being put in front of National Green Tribunal by some environmental activist leading to penal action, which I feel is not the right way to implement environmental clearance conditions. Because the developer can go to other courts including Supreme Court and take a stay order and then starts legal battle which can go on and in the meantime the buyers suffer.

In my view if the buyer is investing his hard earned money (assuming he/she takes a home loan and repays through EMIs), it should be the duty of buyer to ask about all the aspects in detail before entering into purchase agreement. The developer will be engaged with the project during construction period and probably a year or two during operation time, after that the maintenance is transferred to resident welfare associations. Just to give an example, developer has proposed a state of art swimming pool in your project and you are paying money for that. You should ask about the capacity of swimming pool, source of water used in swimming pool, permission sought for water from local authority as it should be part of complete project. Unless the buyer questions on these environmental aspects, all developers will not implement necessary environmental safeguards. The message should be that if the buyer is paying for his/her sweet home, he/she should look the project into holistic way and satisfy all the queries rather than regretting his/her decision.

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