The promoters of Lavasa, a planned hill city in the Western Ghats that is facing the ire of the union environment ministry for allegedly flouting green norms, has hit back on Wednesday.
On November 25, the ministry issued a notice to Lavasa, asking it to state why all its construction in Mulshi Tehsil of Pune district should not be removed immediately. The notice also ordered Lavasa to maintain status quo at the site.
The company, a subsidiary of Hindustan Construction Company, accused the ministry in a petition before the Bombay High Court of misconception of facts and law. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on December 10.
The company said the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification that the ministry had issued in January 1994 under the Environment Protection Act was not applicable to its 12,500-hectare project.
It said the Act, making it mandatory to obtain prior environmental clearance, applied only to extension of on-going industrial projects, and not to a hill station development project.
The company even challenged the constitutional validity of the notification.
"In absence of any precise parameters, the power is clearly arbitrary and not channelised by any definite norms."
Lavasa also contended that it had obtained the required no-objection certificate from the state environment department in August 2000 and it was converted into a final environmental clearance on March 18, 2004.
It argued that over 8,000 employees will be forced to leave the work mid-way if the project was stalled.