The much advertised, high end Lake City Project in Lavasa, 65 km east of Pune, never sought clearance from the union environment ministry and could be demolished, the ministry said in a show cause notice sent to the developers on Friday.
It ordered them to stop all construction immediately.
The ministry also sought the Maharashtra government’s reply as to why construction was allowed to start without the mandatory environmental clearance.
Billed as India’s first hill city and spread over an area of around 25,000 acres, Lavasa has seen several controversies since construction started.
The environment ministry issued the notice following a petition from an alliance of activist NGOs, the National Alliance for People’s Movements — the same group that first raised the red flag over Mumbai’s Adarsh Housing complex (which turned out to be a massive scam).
Lavasa was required to take the union ministry’s permission following changes in the rules relating to project clearance in 2004. With these changes, the union ministry began playing a much bigger role in clearances than before.
About projects that had already when the new rules came, it was stipulated that if they had spent more than 25% of their total project cost they need take permission all over again from the union green ministry. Those who had spent less than 25%, however, were required to take clearance. Lavasa, which had spent only 5.33% of its total cost in 2004, thus needed to get sanction all over again from Delhi. But it never bothered to.
This meant that the entire project was illegal.
The company has been given 15 days to reply to the show cause notice. The ministry has also sought detailed maps of the project from Lavasa Corporation.
“We are still to receive it,” said Lavasa Corporation in response to an email from HT. “As and when such a notice is received we will respond after studying the same."