Ministry sets terms to reconsider Lavasa project

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 09, 2017 Published on January 18, 2011


But says construction is ‘unauthorised' and ‘environmentally damaging'

Even as it termed the construction at Lavasa Hill City as ‘unauthorised' and ‘environmentally damaging,' the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) said it is willing to consider the project on certain terms and conditions. These include a hefty penalty and the creation of an environment restoration fund.

The Ministry, in its final order submitted to the Bombay High Court on Tuesday, directed that status quo be maintained on the project and no construction activity be undertaken by Lavasa.

The project is promoted by Lavasa Corporation Ltd (LCL), a subsidiary of Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. Shares of HCC lost 4 per cent to close at Rs 39.80 on the BSE in a flattish market.

The Ministry said it could consider approving the project “because of the investments already incurred, third party rights which are accrued, the various steps taken for establishment of a comprehensive hill station development, the employment generated and the claimed uplift of the area under consideration.”

However, it imposed certain conditions, including Lavasa setting up an Environmental Restoration Fund (ERF) “with sufficiently large corpus.”

The corpus would be managed by an independent body under the supervision of the Ministry. However, the Ministry did not specify the quantum of the ‘substantial penalty' or the size of the ERF corpus.

The Ministry said the imposition of stringent terms and conditions was to ensure that no further environmental degradation takes place.

For ensuring immediate and proper compliance with its conditions, the Ministry directed Lavasa to submit a detailed project report and plans and audited statements since inception.

“Further, based on the LCL response and if LCL gives relevant and credible material…MOEF is prepared to consider the project on merits subject to the imposition of the penalties…and the formulation of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment report and Management Plan for this project,” the Ministry said.

Response to notice

In response to representations against the project, the Ministry had issued a show-cause notice to Lavasa on November 25, asking why it did not obtain environmental clearances. Lavasa challenged the notice in the Bombay High Court.

Tuesday's order came after a technical team from the Ministry visited the project site early this month, on directions of the court. The next hearing in the case is set for January 27.

More on jurisdiction: Lavasa

Reacting to the Ministry's order, Lavasa said in a statement that the order was more on jurisdiction rather than on environment issues. It felt that “MOEF does not have objective and measurable norms.” It also felt that “no weightage or consideration was given to the huge body of data submitted by the company on environment protection and enhancement initiatives.”

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Published on January 18, 2011
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