The construction of the SmartCity Kochi project is likely to get the green signal in a month with the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) giving in-principle environment clearance to the first phase of the project at a meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.
The Authority’s decision comes in the wake of the State Expert Appraisal Committee’s (SEAC) decision on July 6 to recommend environment clearance for the first phase of the project.
A.E. Muthunayagam, chairman, SIEAA, said the environment clearance order was likely to be issued within a month. “Since this is an important project for the State, we do not want to act in haste. We will first prepare a draft order and get it vetted by the members of the Authority before issuing the final order,” he told The Hindu.
Mr. Muthunayagam said the order would be issued either before the next meeting of SEIAA scheduled for August 23 or at the meeting.
No separate clearances
Significantly, the SEIAA made it clear that environment clearance for the project would no longer be issued in piecemeal manner. This means the promoters will not be able to get separate clearances for the remaining phases but will have to produce the entire master plan the next time they approach the Authority.
Baju George, managing director, SmartCity (India), was delighted with the Authority’s decision and said the company would comply with the conditions set forth. He said SmartCity looked at environment clearance more as its corporate social responsibility and was prepared to go beyond what was expected of them.
“We will launch the land development works next week. We have enough space to relocate at least half of the trees in the site. We will gear up to launch the construction as soon as the clearance order is received,” he said.
Slew of conditions
The SEAC had already set a slew of conditions subject to which it had recommended to the Authority to grant environment clearance for the first phase of the project. That paddy field reclamation would not be allowed as part of the construction was one of the major conditions.
The promoters had requested filling up some area coming under the 4.5 hectares identified for the first phase of the project. The SEAC turned it down citing that it amounted to violation of provisions under the existing rules and regulations.
The SEAC had recommended environment clearance for the 63, 945.50 sq.m built-up area of the first phase of SmartCity on condition that 15.5 per cent of energy should be saved using alternative energy sources.
Temporary storage space for treated leftover sewage for recycling it for non-drinking purposes, using indigenous plants for development of the green belt, alternative sources of water including the option of open wells, treatment plant for solid waste management and rain water harvesting for at least a month’s use were the other conditions.
SmartCity Kochi will come up on three parcels of land of 100 acres, 131 acres and 14 acres.
The first phase comes under the 131 acres. SmartCity had unveiled on July 2 the perspective image of the first IT building with six lakh sq.ft spread over 50 acres to be constructed within two years.