To get around MoEF norms, Kerala redefines 'high-rise'

Kerala redefines

Faced with environmental hurdles in pushing vertical growth in the state, the Kerala government last month amended its municipal building rules to change the very definition of 'high-rise' buildings to get around the stringent new requirements for a green nod.

Kerala and some other states have strongly opposed the union environment ministry's 'Guideline for High Rise Buildings' brought in through a February 7 notification on the recommendation of its Expert Appraisal Committee on Building/Construction, Infrastructure and CRZ Projects.

These guidelines link the height of buildings with the width of roads on which they are to be located, and also the distance to fire stations so that fire tenders can reach swiftly in the event of an emergency.

For instance, if a proposed building is between 15 m and 30 m tall, it should be located along a road that is at least 15 metres wide. Moreover, the building should have a fire station located within a 10-km radius, the guidelines say.

Land-starved Kerala had been expressing serious concerns about the guidelines. It found a way out by amending its building rules to boost real estate growth in the state, Kerala government sources said.

While a building with four floors or 15 m tall was earlier termed a high-rise building in Kerala, after the amendment a high-rise will have to be 16 m tall with as many floors as can be built. Since a 15 m building in Kerala is no longer a high-rise, the MoEF's guidelines for 'high-rise' buildings will not be applicable to them.

"The environmental clearance issue is of serious concern for the state as it has major implications for the real estate development in land scarce Kerala. Accordingly, this was factored in and some aspects have been taken care of through the new building rules that have been passed by the state legislature now," a senior state government official said.

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