India: Reforms about Green Building Code in Maharashtra

MUMBAI: After dangling a carrot in front of developers and citizens to promote environment-friendly buildings, the state government seems to have yanked it away for now.

For the last few years, the state had been hinting at providing water and property rebates and providing FSI incentives. But now these sops find no mention in the first-of-its kind ” green building code” being readied by the government, said sources.

The new code, which will include mandatory andvoluntary reforms, are in the final stages of preparation and will be soon announced, said a senior state official.

Last week, state chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia convened a high-level meeting to discuss these reforms.

Sources revealed that the financial implications of offering rebates in property and water taxes could have scuttled these incentives with the state finance department reportedly wary of the option. There was also no consensus and clarity on the FSI incentive plan, an official revealed. Finally, it was decided that the mandatory reforms in the new code must be pushed through without any incentive, the official added.

The government has, however, decided to continue with its initiative of granting priority for environmental clearance procedures to green buildings. Last year, the government introduced a scheme where buildings with green certification were given priority for environmental clearance; it was a tangible benefit as the environment clearances usually take over a-year-and-a-half. This initiative has been gaining popularity with developers.

The state has decided to first enforce the new code for government and semi-government owned and aided buildings; private buildings will be granted a “window period” of three years to comply with the mandatory reforms.

A few of the mandatory reforms include implementing rainwater harvesting for both roof and non-roof areas, planting trees on at least 15% of net plot area, using colour coded bins for waste segregation , installing solar water heating systems and solar lights, using dual flush cisterns and low flow water closets

and reusing 50% of the construction waste. The state has included transplantation of 75% of uprooted trees as a voluntary measure, but made plantation of five saplings of every uprooted tree mandatory.

“Green buildings can reduce the footprint of greenhouse gas emissions by 20%,” said Valsa Nair-Singh, secretary, environment department, adding that the government plans to take up promotion of green buildings as a mission. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has been pushing the administration to evolve a uniform code for green buildings.

Souce: The Times of Indian

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