Lavasa accepts green riders, finally

It had challenged the conditions, saying it would amount to guilt  

By Ashwin Aghor
Published: Thursday 15 September 2011

PROMOTERS of Lavasa, India’s first planned hill station, have agreed to accept the pre-conditions imposed by the Union environment ministry over which the project’s clearance was stuck. The ministry had reprimanded Lavasa Corporation Limited for violating environmental laws at the project site near Pune in Maharashtra.

In a volte-face, the company’s board of directors passed a resolution stating they were ready to accept all the riders. The resolution has been submitted to the ministry, says a senior company official. The company had challenged the pre-conditions in the Bombay High Court, saying accepting them would amount to admission of guilt.

The ministry had sent a letter to the Maharashtra environment ministry on June 10 directing it to take action against Lavasa. It said of the 2,000-hectare (ha) project near Pune, development on 681 ha was in progress without any clearance. It reiterated that Lavasa would have to meet five pre-conditions if the project is to be cleared. The pre-conditions include a board resolution that Lavasa will not repeat the violations (‘Maharashtra soft on Lavasa?’, Down To Earth, August 1-15, 2011).

Suniti S R of activists’ coalition National Alliance of People’s Movement says the project cannot be cleared even if the pre-conditions are met. “There is no provision for a post-facto clearance in Environment Protection Act of 1986,” she says.

In the next hearing on the case in the high court on September 5 the company will tell the court it has accepted the pre-conditions. Since February, the court is hearing a petition filed by Lavasa challenging an environment ministry order issued last year. The ministry had ordered to maintain status quo at the project site as it was undertaken without clearances.

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