Real Estate and Environmental Issues

By- Nazneen Zafar !!

Real estate is a modern term for land and anything that is permanently affixed to it. It is basically comprised of land, buildings as well as the natural resources including flora, fauna and minerals. The real estate sector has huge scope in India as it is one of the fastest developing countries and due to its rapid economic growth over the last decade it has laid tremendous stress on its limited infrastructure. The importance of India’s real estate sector can be seen by the fact that it is fourth largest in terms of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). One of the continuing struggles of the 21st century has been to attain a harmonious construct in achieving economic development, in a way which does not threaten or cause environmental degradation.

This real estate boom coupled with infra growth has triggered various environmental concerns ranging from increased air pollution to decline in annual agricultural and fishery yield. The continuous rise in the carbon concentrates in the atmosphere particularly in populated urban areas like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata where the air quality index has fallen below safety measures.

However, this alarming trend has been looked up seriously by the government and the Government of India by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 of the Constitution made an express provision for the protection and promotion of the environment and introduced articles 48A and 51A (g) in the DPSP and Fundamental Duties respectively. Article 48A of the Indian Constitution states that, “the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country” and as per Article 51A of the Indian Constitution, “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forest, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”

With a view to introduce an effective deterrent policy to ensure compliances, the Central Government has on 7th October 2015 published a draft of the Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (Draft Bill) for inviting objections and suggestions from any person interested. it divides environmental violation into three categories, ‘minor violation’, ‘non-substantial damage’, and ‘substantial damage’. Depending upon the extent of substantial damage caused, penalty ranges from Rupees 5,00,00,000 to Rupees 20,00,00,000 and also imprisonment for a term ranging from 7 years to life imprisonment has been prescribed whereas penalties for minor violations and non- substantial damage ranges from 1,000 to 5, 00, 00,000.

It can be observed that the laws on environment protection has been evolved over the time and that the government has taken pro- active measures by formulating various legislations and policies with an intent to not only promote substantial development but at the same time also ensure that such development does not undermine critical resources and ecological functions or the well-being, lifestyle and livelihood of the people who depend upon them.


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