Is the ban on construction activities to combat air pollution justified?

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(Representative image) | Photo credit: IANS

Highlights

  • Annual construction ban for 2 months during the holiday season delaying ongoing projects
  • CREDAI questions need for building ban, says escalating costs are hurting homebuyers
  • CREDAI deplores the lack of exemption for such bans in RERA, homebuyers’ lawyer differs

New Delhi: With the increase in the incidence of stubble burning and the decline in AQI (Air Quality Index) levels, restrictions on industrial and construction activities may be imposed in the northern states of the United States. India like every year. Already under the effects of the pandemic and the rise in cement and steel prices, the construction sector will have to prepare for a new 2-month moratorium on its activity.

The National Capital Region Air Quality Management Commission was established last year to replace the more than 20-year-old EPCA. [Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority] as a nodal body to combat air pollution in northern India. The Commission has members from various central ministries and state governments in northern India and is supposed to issue instructions to reduce air pollution whenever it deems necessary.

Pankaj Goel, secretary of CREDAI National, urged governments not to penalize the struggling construction industry because the delay in completing projects increases the overall cost. Citing various studies on the construction industry’s minimum contribution to air pollution, he regretted that it was difficult to quantify the losses suffered by the real estate industry due to the construction bans of 2 months each. year.

He is of the opinion that most construction work does not mean dust pollution, and even minor restrictions on demolition activities will solve the problem. Seeking to alleviate the disrupted industry, he called a “build ban” an unnecessary measure that ends up penalizing customers who in turn have to pay more EMIs due to escalating costs and higher rents due to the delay in the completion of the project.

Lawyer Aditya Parolia, who currently represents more than 50,000 homebuyers in disputes before various courts, believes that the bans and restrictions imposed by the government fall under the doctrine of “force majeure”, where the inability of performance of its obligations cannot be attributed to default by any party. Force majeure includes situations which are beyond the control of any party and cannot be reasonably foreseen by any party contracting the contract.

However, Pankaj Goel regretted that there is no automatic provision to exempt developers from such government-imposed delays, instead real estate agents have to contact the authorities for each specific case and project, which adds to the cost and to paperwork amidst their bleeding balance sheets.

Former Solicitor General of India, Senior Counsel Ranjit Kumar, describes the legal situation in the absence of a clear exemption under the RERA. He believes that the right to life is essential and takes precedence over any possible exemption for an activity deemed “polluting” by the experts. He stressed that the deterioration of air quality bothers all citizens, including those who will live in apartments whose construction is delayed.

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