Lavasa township project denied environment clearance

October 14th, 2011 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The environment ministry Friday denied environment clearance to the first phase of Rs.3,000 crore Lavasa hill city project near Pune, saying the pre-condition of the Maharashtra government taking action against the company for violation of green laws has not been complied with.

Lavasa called the ministry’s order disappointing, and said after eleven months of continued delaying tactics, the ministry has yet again evaded grant of environment clearance.

The ministry’s 70-page order came after the Bombay High Court Friday asked the ministry to pass a final order, or else the court would begin hearing the case afresh based on merit.

“As the pre-condition on the credible action on violation of environment impact assessment (EIA), 2006, has not been complied with, the ministry is unable to issue the environment clearance to the first phase of the hill city project (2,000 hectares) of Lavasa,” the ministry said in its order.

“The final decision on the environment clearance cannot be taken till all the preconditions are met, including credible action by the Maharashtra government and subject to the final orders of the court as the matter is sub-judice,” the order further said.

Lavasa, a project of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), in February had applied for a fresh environment clearance of phase-I spread in 2,000 hectares in Mulshi sub-district near Pune.

The preconditions included credible action by the Maharashtra government against the violation of environment laws, submission of a written commitment by the company that green violations shall not be repeated, and the scale and intensity of development of the hill town shall be as per Hill Station Regulations.

Besides, five percent of the total cost of the project would have been earmarked towards corporate social responsibility by the company and it was to submit an undertaking to mark adequate funds for creation of environment restoration fund.

In its meeting dated May 31, 2011, the expert appraisal committee (EAC) recommended the proposal for issuance of environmental clearance for the first phase with certain conditions and the ministry accepted these recommendations.

According to ministry, the company had agreed to meet all the preconditions.

But Lavasa chairman Ajit Gulabchand in a letter to Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Sep 13 has complained about treatment given to Lavasa as contrasted to other projects.

The ministry had Nov 25, 2010, slapped a show-cause notice on Lavasa Corporation because it had allegedly failed to secure necessary environmental clearances before starting work on its 5,000-plus hectare lake city project coming up in Mulshi sub-district of Pune district, around 200 km from Mumbai.

The company approached the Bombay High Court against the environment ministry’s order.

In its response, Lavasa said: “To suggest that the state government has not yet taken action is not a good enough reason for delaying grant of clearance, to such a large and important project, under development for the last seven years.”

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