Bombay high court gives six weeks' time to Lavasa

Asks to submit documents to environment ministry by March 10

Published: Wednesday 16 February 2011

The Bombay High Court has given Lavasa Corporation Ltd six weeks' time to submit documents demanded by the Union ministry of environment and forests. Lavasa has time till March 10 to pacify the ministry, which had ordered the corporation to stop work on November 25 last year saying the township project violated the Environment Protection Act. The high court order came on January 27.

Lavasa filed a petition on January 24 challenging the ministry's order and said it had already submitted the documents. On the new directions by the court to submit documents they said, “this time we have sought from the court to consider a solution in the case.”

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Ajit Gulabchand, chairperson of Hindustan Construction Company, of which Lavasa is a subsidiary, had earlier approached environment minister Jairam Ramesh for out-of-court settlement of the matter. But the ministry clarified that there will be no such settlement. In an order issued, on January 17, the ministry stated that Lavasa would have to pay heavy penalty, establish an environment restoration fund and rectify ecological degradation that has taken place at the township site. The stop work order would hold until the next hearing on March 10.

National Alliance of the Peoples Movement, which had filed official complaint against Lavasa in 2008 with the state environment department, said, “Lavasa should not be regularised merely after claiming financial penalties. A strong decision should be taken under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 for project demolition.”

Touted as the first hill station since Independence, Lavasa is being developed on 5,058 hectare in the Western Ghats, 65 km from Pune. Since its inception, the project has faced allegations of land grab and involvement of politicians.

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