Delight of industrialist Ajit Gulabchand of getting environment clearance for Lavasa lake city project near Pune, promoted by his company Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), was short-lived.
Hours after he told a meeting of shareholders in Mumbai on Friday morning that an environment ministry committee had approved the first phase of the project, the ministry issued an order asking the Maharashtra government to take action against construction of flats in 681 hectare of the first phase of Lake City project without environment clearance.The timing of the action order comes within 10 days of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) deciding on recommending conditional environment clearance to the entire first phase without raising the issue of construction in 681 hectare.
The ministry’s order asking for initiating action was based on the visit by Naresh Dayal, EAC chairperson, in first week of January, 2011.
Dayal had found construction of flats in 681 hectare of the total 2,000 hectares of the first phase of project without mandatory environment clearance. In February, the company finally applied for environment clearance from the ministry.
“The construction/developments are violation of Environment Protection Act, 1986,” Bharat Bhushan, said in his Friday’s order, without referring to EAC’s final recommendation.
The action to be initiated under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, could mean either demolition of the structures raised or a penalty for the same.
The EAC clearance
On May 31, the EAC had given its nod for the project with 34 conditions, including 5% of the project cost to be earmarked for corporate social responsibility and a policy for corporate environment responsibility, which environment minister Jairam Ramesh had described as “name and shame” regime.
In this, the company will be required to report environmental violations to its board and place it on its website.