What are the criteria that affect the applicability of Environment NOC in Building and Construction projects?

Introduction: Building and Construction activity is one of the major developmental aspects that play a pivotal role to boost up the economy of the country. This construction activity is one of the most important segments of the Infrastructure projects that determine the growth and Gross Domestic Product of a nation. The projects usually covered under the building and Construction activity are residential, commercial, hospital, hotels, Information technology, school, college, University, Warehouses, Malls, and Complex, etc.
The meaning of construction is to build something up. In the Construction Industry, something is built upon the site, erecting structure and building, and is unique. In these kinds of projects labor, manpower, material, plant & machinery, and other resources are consumed.

EIA NOC perspective in Building projects: MoEF (Ministry of Environment & Forest) has come up with the EIA notification dated 14th September 2006 exercising the powers conferred by sub-section (1) and clause (v) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, clause (d) of sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 and in supersession of the earlier notification number S.O. 60 (E) dated the 27th January 1994.
Two types of building and construction projects are covered up under the MoEF EIA notification 14th Sep 2006:
(a) All new, and existing building projects under the purview of Environmental Clearance.
(b) Any modernization and expansion of existing building projects.

These projects require prior EC NOC (Environmental Clearance) before starting up any type of construction activity on the project site. That means one can not even think of beginning construction without taking the Environmental Clearance NOC for the project.
The building and construction projects are area development-centric which means the applicability of EIA NOC depends upon the threshold limit or production capacity. The threshold limit is the measurement of the built-up area as far as building and construction projects are concerned.
Threshold limit of built-up area: Any such project having a built-up area greater than 20,000 sq. m is considered to be eligible for Environmental NOC to be obtained from the Environment Ministry. Therefore the minimum threshold limit for these projects is 20,000 sq. m of built-up area.
And now one may ask, what do you mean by the term ‘built up area’? If we look at it from the Architectural domain, it is the covered area summation of all the floors which means if we add the total area of all the floors, we get a built-up area.
But things might change a little bit if we look at it from the EIA perspective.
Built-up area refers to the sum of FAR (Floor area ratio) and Non-FAR area.
The next thing that may come up in your mind is that if FAR means the covered area of all the floors then the Non-FAR area shall be non-covered. But Does Non covered area exist in reality? Maybe yes, and it may be an open area. The Non-FAR area consists of the Stilt area, Podium area, Basement area, Mumty area, Lift, Stairs, and Shaft, etc. which may anyhow seem covered but do not count as FAR.
Therefore we can say that when a building and construction project’s built-up area exceeds the threshold limit which is 20,000 sq. m, The said activity or project needs to undergo the EIA NOC process and to obtain the Environment NOC as per the MoEF EIA notification 2006.
There may be some instances where the project built-up area is less than 20,000 sq. m. and the said project is having the open to sky activity area which is used for the facilities then activity area may become the covered area and accordingly this covered area will be added up in the existing built-up area that will us the final Built-up area of the project.
Category and Schedule: Building and construction projects are covered under category B which is appraised at the level of State Level Environment Authorities. Further Category B projects are classified into two schedules; B1 and B2.
You may be wondering to know, are these schedules or names of some virus that just appeared out of the blue? Let me explain further.
Schedule B1 projects or 8(b): These projects are categorized as Township and area development projects which are having a threshold limit (Built-up area) greater than 1,50,000 sq. m. or the total land covering an area greater than 50 Hectares.
Schedule B2 projects or 8(a): These are the Building and construction projects which have a built-up area of more than 20,000 sq. m. but less than 1,50,000 sq. m.
Both B1 and B2 scheduled projects are dealt with at the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority which is a statutory body of MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest).
If we talk about the process of getting the EIA NOC in both the cases, B1 projects generally have the screening, Scoping that has the ToR (Terms of Reference) issued by the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority to further study and conduct the detailed EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) and prepare an EIA report for the Building and construction projects. B2 scheduled projects have the only screening and go directly appraisal based on merits. Building and construction projects do not go for public hearings or consultation.