Environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday described social activist Anna Hazare's comparison between the controversial Adarsh and Lavasa projects in Maharashtra as "inappropriate", saying the violations in the two projects were under different environmental regulations.
Ramesh's response came in reply to a letter written by Hazare to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in which he charged the union environment ministry and the Maharashtra government with buckling under political pressure to go soft on the "irregularities and violations" in the Lavasa hill city project near Pune.
"Lavasa is an example of arbitrary and irresponsible exploitation of law, corruption, and political pressures that are aspects of the many scams in the country," Hazare wrote.
"While the environment ministry approves of demolishing the unauthorised Adarsh building under provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, it approves of Lavasa under the same Act. What kind of a law is this?" he asked.
In his reply, Ramesh told Hazare: "Adarsh is a CRZ (coastal regulation zone) violation case. CRZ clearance is (necessary) for a specific site. Lavasa is an environmental violation case. Environmental clearance is (required) for a project. The scale and scope of the two are quite different."
Ramesh also contradicted Hazare's claim that the ministry had given environment clearance to the Lake City Project of Lavasa Corporation Limited near Pune.
"Lavasa has not got the formal and final environmental clearance as yet," he said.
The minister accused the social activist of making unsubstantiated allegations against the ministry and said it would have been better if the facts had first been cross-checked with him.
Hazare said in his letter that the probe conducted against Lavasa had confirmed the allegations of environmental norms having been flouted.
"Following the people's andolan (campaign) against Lavasa, many inquiries were conducted and much of the accusations of the protesters were proved to be true," he wrote.