Maharashtra Pollution Control Board files complaint against Lavasa

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 12, 2017 Published on November 04, 2011

Ajit Gulabchand, Gautam Thapar and Anuradha Desai among those named in complaint

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) filed a complaint against the promoters and officials of Lavasa Corporation for violation of the Environment Protection Act at a Pune Court on Friday.

Details of the violations by the developer for which proceedings have been initiated were unavailable till late evening. However, MPCB officials said Mr Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman of both HCC and Lavasa Corporation; Mr Gautam Thapar of the Avantha Group; Ms Anuradha Desai of Venkateswara Hatcheries; Mr Vithal Maniar and Aniruddha Despande; all non-executive directors, besides Lavasa officials, were named in their complaint.

The court is expected to take up the complaint for scrutiny on Saturday or Tuesday.

Hindustan Construction Company holds 65.01 per cent stake in Lavasa Corporation, Avanta Group 16.25 per cent, Venkateswara Hatcheries 12.79 per cent and a private investor 5.95 per cent.

Penal action

MPCB officials said penal action would attract penalties under Section 15 and 16 of the EPA. Under Section 15, the penalty for violations is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years or with a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or both. Section 16 relates to the offence committed by a company. It says every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was directly in charge of, and was responsible to as well as the company, are liable. The liability will not apply if they prove that the offence was committed without their knowledge or that they exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. Company officials too are liable if the offence is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other officers of the company.

On October 20, the State Government assured the Bombay High Court it would initiate ‘credible' action against violations of the developer in two weeks as sought by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The court had given two weeks to the State Government and a week thereafter to the MoEF to decide on award of clearance or otherwise.

MoEF set five pre-conditions for awarding environment clearance to the project of which one was that the State should initiate credible action against the developer for violations of the Environment Protection Act. The other four are an undertaking by the Lavasa board that such acts (violations) would not be repeated; floor space index would be worked separately and not averaged; five per cent of the project cost would be allocated for corporate social responsibility and setting up of an environmental restoration fund.


A Lavasa Corporation statement said, “In compliance with the pre-conditions set by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for granting environment clearance to the Lavasa project, the Maharashtra State Government has taken necessary action by filing a complaint in the Magistrate Court, Pune. It is unfortunate that the State Government which had itself granted the environment clearance to Lavasa in 2004, has had to initiate this action.”

Incidentally ‘action by the State Government' was the only precondition coming in way of the project getting environment clearance from MoEF, the statement added.

Published on November 04, 2011
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