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Lavasa Corp challenges ministry’s pre-conditions

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 13, 2011
First Published: 01:54 IST(13/7/2011) | Last Updated: 01:55 IST(13/7/2011)

The Lavasa Corporation Ltd. on Tuesday made it clear that it is unwilling even to accept the pre-conditions imposed by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for issuing an environmental clearance for its project in the Western Ghats.


Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade informed the Bombay high court that the subsidiary of the Hindustan Construction Company has written a letter to the MoEF contending it had no authority to impose such pre-conditions, and even if the ministry had such an authority, it could not have imposed such pre-conditions upon the Lavasa Corporation.

“There is no provision in the Environment Protection Act, which contemplate imposition of such pre-conditions,” the senior advocate told the division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice RV More. Naphade said the letter has been sent in response to a letter received from the ministry on June 27, 2011.

According to the additional solicitor general Darius Khambata, the letter was nothing but an order granting conditional post-facto sanction for the hill station project.

Khambata submitted that on May 31, 2011, the expert appraisal committee had forwarded a proposal to the ministry, recommending conditional grant of post-facto sanction for the hill station project. He pointed out that the proposal stipulated five stringent pre-conditions, which included that state government should take credible action for violation of environmental laws, Lavasa should earmark certain fund towards its corporate social responsibility and set up an environmental restoration fund.

The senior counsel, however, refused to accept that the letter was an order, and sought to challenge the imposition of these  pre-conditions. Naphade complained that the MoEF wanted them to pay without there being any rationale calculation or basis.

The court was hearing two petitions filed by the Lavasa Corporation challenging a show cause notice issued by the MoEF on Nov 25, 2010, and subsequent order of Jan 17, 2011 holding the project had been undertaken without mandatory clearance.

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