Large real-estate developments in India should be subject to the same scrutiny as industrial projects given their environmental impact, according to city planners and campaigners.
A proposal to redevelop parts of New Delhi that required the felling of thousands of trees recently provoked fierce protests, court petitions and night patrols to guard the trees.
While projects measuring more than 20,000 square meters require impact assessments, exemptions are often made and public hearings are never held, analysts said.
“Large construction projects have a huge environmental and social footprint, and deserve scrutiny for their impact on energy and water use, and urban infrastructure,” said Kanchi Kohli at New Delhi think tank Centre for Policy Research.
“Cities are already dealing with severe air pollution, water shortages and traffic congestion. Residents deserve a say in these projects,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Worldwide, cities occupy 2 percent of the land mass, but account for more than 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
As developers rush to cash in, unplanned urban sprawl is leading to congestion, flooding and more slums, analysts say.
Authorities have introduced stricter environmental laws for businesses in recent years, but analysts say they are poorly implemented in a rush to lure investors.
But it is not all one way.