The State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has deferred its recommendation for environmental clearance to the first phase of the SmartCity Kochi project based on the inference that “the proposal submitted by the proponent had many factual errors and lacked a specific plan of environmental management”.

Stating that the SEAC had expressed its displeasure in drafting the ambitious project of the State government in such a very casual manner, sources told The Hindu that the promoter has failed to seriously consider many of the environmental factors while drafting the proposal.

The minutes finalized by the SEAC pointed out that the primary factor of concern regarding the project was the proof of authorized signatory submitted by the promoter. Since the project promoter was not an Indian and that he himself was not present for the meeting with the committee, he should have authorized a person through the Indian Consulate as his authorized signatory for the project, it said.

The SEAC found that the conceptual plan submitted by the promoter did not show most of the amenities proposed for the project, among other things, like the proposed building with total number of floors, location of sewage treatment plant, solid waste storage area, green belt, rainwater harvesting, water recharge pits and location of tube wells. The plan also did not show the internal traffic circulation of the project and hence was inadequate for an evaluation.

Making it clear that the SmartCity authorities should submit the master plan for the entire project as part of the environmental clearance process, the SEAC also noted out that the promoter had only submitted proposal for only four acres as the first phase of the project even though they had earlier stated that the total project area is about 246.01 acres.

The promoter has not clearly stated the facilities proposed for the project and the committee suggested providing the details while submitting the revised proposal. The promoter stated that they have provided adequate parking facilities, which is exceeding above the prescribed minimum standards.

The committee asked whether KINFRA has made any commitment regarding the water supply to the project. SmartCity Kochi authorities said that the KINFRA had already committed one MLD of water and 10 MW of power for the project and that they are ready to cater to the entire water requirements of the proposed project as per the framework agreement.

The SEAC suggested that the project proponents should not depend on a single source of water and suggested finding some other alternate source. It also recommended the SmartCity authorities to develop an efficient solid waste management system of their own, as the project is considered as a mega dream initiative of the State. The SmartCity authorities had informed the committee that they plan to dispose of the solid waste at the Kochi Corporation’s Brahmapuram plant.

The SEAC also observed that the promoter has not mentioned anything about the Corporate Social Responsibility and hence they should provide concrete and specific plans regarding CSR as it should benefit the society at large. The committee also rejected a proposal that green area will be developed only in 10 per cent of the total land for the Smart City project. It recommended a planned green area development in at least 40 per cent of the total area in consultation with a landscape expert.

The committee found that the promoter has not submitted the landscape plan, affidavits in stamp paper as stated in the check list and details regarding the distance of the project site from nearest fire station and quantification of energy saved.

The SmartCity Kochi authorities should also submit an assurance for the entire water requirement of the project, detailed plans for effective solid waste management by the promoter itself and CSR initiatives in the revised proposal.

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