An Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has deferred decision on environment clearance for the Zaheerabad National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ).

It did so, citing the need for additional documents and information on various aspects, including land acquisition, protection of trees – around 2,300 trees are envisaged to be cut – as well clear demarcation of industrial units based on their category as per pollution norms.

An ambitious project, the NIMZ has been proposed on 12,635 acres in Nyalkal and Jharasangam mandals, near Zaheerabad, in Sangareddy district.

Project proponent Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation said the land came under 17 revenue villages and mostly comprise barren and vacant lands with a few pockets of farmlands.

Detailed deliberation

The EAC meeting on March 17-18 had detailed deliberation on the submissions made by TSIIC before deciding to defer the proposal, minutes of the meeting said. On land acquisition, the committee said many representations on land acquisition and compensation paid had been received by the Union Environment Ministry. In this backdrop, it wanted the Ministry to forward the representations to TSIIC so that a “detailed response in a tabular form [can] be submitted on the issues raised. An elaborate report on land acquired, compensatory details and the period for settlement has to be sorted according to the State government Policy,” the EAC said.

Referring to the norms, the EAC asked TSIIC to list activities needed for implementing the commitments made during the public hearing, of the project, with cost estimates in the Environment Management Plan and submit it as part of Environment Impact Assessment report to the Ministry. Calling for a greenery and conservation management plan to sustain existing greenery, the EAC said all tall, old and heritage native trees should be enumerated, GPS-tagged and detailed in EIA EMP.

The “plotting design should be such that all such trees are protected,” it said.

TSIIC had said about 2,300 trees were envisaged to be cut. The total green area planned is 1974.4 acres (15.6%) under layout periphery green belt, traffic rotaries, green buffer areas and open green spaces. Also, 33% of each industrial plot is to be maintained as green belt as per TSPCB guidelines.

Around 8.87 lakh trees are proposed to be planted in NIMZ and their survival is to be monitored frequently. The rate of survival during operational phase will not be less than 80%.

A capital cost of ₹13.5 crore is to be earmarked for this purpose and ₹60.75 lakh allocated for recurring expenses towards green belt development and maintenance,” TSIIC said.

Recommending a detailed risk assessment and management of the project, the EAC meeting said since “hamlets proposed in the industrial area would lead to a negative impact [their] settlements have to be planned in a safe zone and a modified plan be submitted. It wanted phase-wise industrial planning submitted and since automobile industry – one of the many industries proposed in the NIMZ – should be engaging in painting activity, which comes under Red category, all industries need to be clearly demarcated.

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