The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on Wednesday gave clearance to the Lavasa project, stating that all 53 conditions, including earmarking of 5% of the project cost for welfare of the local villagers, have been met by the project proponents.
Earlier the ministry had withheld the environmental clearance to the Lavasa hill city project near Pune.
Lavasa is the first major project in India where environment ministry has imposed rehabilitation condition, including creation of income generating projects for locals such as fodder farm, fruit bearing orchard and vocational training.
"The Lavasa Corporation Limited shall provide separate budget for community development activities and income generating programmes," the ministry's order said. The corporation will also be required to deposit 5% of the money spent till now to the Maharashtra government, which would be used if the corporation fails to carry out environment restoration work.
The ministry in its stop work order in November 2010 had accused the corporation of suppressing facts. It observed that on 47.30 hectare of the total land of 2,000 hectares, the construction undertaken was above 1000 meters above the sea level, even though the permission was for less than 1000 meters.
To ensure that environment clearance conditioned are implemented, the ministry has asked the state government to constitute a committee to monitor construction and environment rehabilitation package and to submit regular reports to its regional office.
The ministry's decision came after the Maharashtra government this week filed a case against 15 persons including promoters of Lavasa Corporation for alleged violations of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), a pre-condition for giving approval to the first phase.
Welcoming the decision, Lavasa Corporation chairperson Ajit Gulabchand said the stakeholders will be happy about the decision and would also reassure hundreds of villagers and workers are engaged in the construction of the hill city project.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had met Environment minister Jayanti Natarajan on November 4 and requested her to clear the project as Lavasa Corporation and the state government had met all the conditions.
The other conditions imposed include demarcation of land usage which includes open spaces, energy efficiency of 28-32%, the development should be as per Maharashtra's Hill Station Regulations and an undertaking not to repeat the violations again.