Lavasa welcomes central clearance for hill city

November 9th, 2011 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 9 (IANS) The Lavasa Corporation Ltd (LCL) Wednesday welcomed the conditional clearance by the environment ministry to its Rs.3,000-crore hill city coming up near Pune.

“The inordinate delay has led to a huge setback to the project and LCL has a challenging task at hand to bring the project up to speed to meet our commitments. The environment clearance order is a positive development and comes as a reprieve for all our stakeholders including our investors, the villagers and LCL,” a spokesman said here Wednesday evening.

The company pointed out that it had started development work at Lavasa in 2004 with environment clearance granted by the Maharashtra government and only after being invited by them to participate in the Hill Station Development Act, 1996.

“We continue to maintain that the MoEF’s notification, over which the entire controversy was based, is not applicable to Lavasa. The decision to enter into a constructive dialogue with MoEF to end the impasse was taken keeping in mind the interests of various stakeholders and the investments made till date,” the spokesman asserted.

The spokesperson added that LCL is “committed to developing Lavasa as an economic, social and environmentally sustainable city” and assured to work closely with MoEF and the state government to create a sustainable development within a pre-agreed framework, while creating replicable benchmarks.

The LCL reaction came in response to the MoEF clearance on grounds that “all the preconditions have been met with the Maharashtra government taking action against the company for violation of green laws”.

Last month, the MoEF had declined environment clearance over non-compliance of pre-conditions.

Lavasa, a project of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), had in February applied for fresh environment clearance of phase-I spread over 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 that the scale and intensity of development of the hill town shall be as per Hill Station Regulations.

The ministry had Nov 25, 2010, slapped a show-cause notice on Lavasa Corporation as 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.

The Maharashtra government had filed a criminal complaint against Lavasa Corporation, naming six officers and all nine directors of Lavasa, including Ajit Gulabchand and Annirudha Deshpande, in the case.

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