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HSPCB chief to NAREDCO: Suggest norms to obviate omnibus ban on construction activities

Health is a very important issue and cannot be neglected. So, developers should come up with solutions supported by research, which when adopted will not lead to higher levels of pollution.

Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) Chairman P Raghavendra Rao on November 29 urged the National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) to come up with a model code for pollution control so that feasible construction (read, non-polluting) activities are not banned by the government during winters when pollution levels shoot up to alarming levels.

Since health is a very important issue and cannot be neglected, developers should come up with solutions supported by research/ data, which when adopted will not lead to higher levels of pollution.

His remarks came at NAREDCO’s day-long Haryana Real Estate Summit 2022 in Gurugram where developers voiced their concerns over the ban on construction activities. A one-month ban on construction leads to a delay of 3-4 months in the delivery of projects, he said.

Addressing the summit, Rao said that the main objective of imposing a restriction on polluting industries is to create a less-polluting and healthy environment.

“Health is a very important issue and cannot be neglected. We are open to all practical solutions. If NAREDCO can come up with such a model which ensures that construction and demolition (C&D) activities will not lead to higher levels of pollution, (and which is) vetted by research and enough data, then it can be thought upon,” he said.

He stressed that suggestions given by developers should be supported by data and research, and should show the positive impact that the adoption of the model/solution would have on the environment.

“The details of the model code for pollution control should also be supported and validated by data so that parameters recommended in the code of conduct are considered without any hitch,” Rao said.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) is invoked to curtail pollution levels once the air quality deteriorates to a certain threshold. This emergency measure includes steps such as banning the burning of waste, banning C&D activities, curbing the use of diesel generator sets, and limiting the use of private vehicles.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) had, on November 14, revoked Stage III of GRAP, which included a ban on all C&D activities.

He pointed out that some non-polluting construction activities, such as carpentry and painting were allowed to continue.

Till last year, all of the NCR was considered as one zone for the purpose of construction ban. However, this year it was broken up into three zones ― core Delhi, adjoining districts of Delhi, and the rest of NCR.

“This year not all construction activities were banned. Certain activities in the construction sector, such as carpentry, painting, etc. were not banned. But the factors contributing to pollution will have to take a back seat when the situation worsens,” Rao said at the summit.

The HSPCB chairman also advised developers to adopt dual fuel sets, such as gas sets and generator sets to spur construction activity, with gas-based sets accounting for not less than 60 percent, and generator sets 40 percent.

Pollution control measures should aim at reducing, reusing and recycling wastewater, he told industry players. Water that goes into drains should also be treated, he said.

Addressing the gathering, Pradeep Aggarwal, Founder & Chairman, of Signature Global (India) Ltd, said that ban on construction activities adversely affects projects by causing delays of several months.

“If construction activities are halted by one month due to any reason, the project gets delayed by three to four months. These restrictions on construction activities also render the labourers jobless,” Aggarwal said.

This happens every winter when the air quality worsens. Some solutions should be chalked out so that timely delivery of projects can be ensured, he said.

Praveen Jain, Chairman, NAREDCO, suggested mandatory deployment of AQI monitoring devices at construction sites, and construction activity to be automatically stopped when the AQI level crosses the 400 level.

“When AQI falls (back) within the accepted levels, construction activity should resume at these sites. This would end unnecessary delays in construction activity, ensuring timely completion of projects,” he said.

Ashish MIshra
first published: Nov 29, 2022 09:53 pm