Pune’s Lavasa loses special status, set to come under Maharashtra govt authority
Mumbai city news: The state government said the decision was taken as a new planning authority — the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority — has been set up for the Pune regionmumbai Updated: May 26, 2017 17:33 IST
The Maharashtra government has decided to revoke the Special Planning Authority (SPA) status given to Lavasa Corporation Limited in 2008 to develop the private hill city near Pune.
The government said the decision was taken as a new planning authority — the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) — has been set up for the Pune region. Lavasa Corporation was given the SPA status in 2008, PMRDA was formed in 2015.
CM Devendra Fadnavis confirmed the development. The government also said it would take action if irregularities are found in the development of the hill station. “We have decided to revoke the SPA status of Lavasa Corporation Limited, as it comes under the PMRDA. The status was accorded when there was no special planning authority for Pune. It was part of the ease of doing business plan, but now we have PMRDA, and hence their SPA status has been removed,” Fadnavis said. The SPA status gives an entity or developer the power to draw up land use plans, develop land in its jurisdiction, sanction constructions and punish irregularities.
Lavasa Corporation said they will respond only after getting an official communication from the government.
“We are yet to receive any official communication. We can respond appropriately only after receiving the same,” said a spokesperson.
The SPA status is usually granted to government undertakings, such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and CIDCO. In Lavasa’s case, it was the first time a private entity was given such a status. The then Congress-NCP government had drawn flak for the decision.
Fadnavis said,“With the decision, Lavasa will now have to come to the PMRDA for permissions and approvals for developing the rest of the project. What has been done by them so far will now be handed over to PMRDA.” He added the government will take action if it finds any irregularities.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Maharashtra legislature, in report, had also recommended the state cancels the SPA status, Fadnavis said.
Significantly, in 2011, the state’s urban development department (UDD) had recommended cancelling the SPA status to Lavasa, after it had sought the opinion of the Union urban development ministry — which pointed out Maharashtra was the only state that had granted such a status to a private company. The erstwhile Congress-NCP government, however, avoided taking any decision, sources said.
The Comptroller and Auditor General, in its 2012 report, too had reprimanded the state for granting the SPA status to a private firm. The CAG, in a report for the year ending March 31, 2011, had said there had been no transparency in the process of granting permissions and approvals to Lavasa.
“Amendments, which diluted well-established government procedures, were made to ensure Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL) had a free hand in developing the project to serve its own commercial interest at the cost of public interest,” the report had said.
Suniti SR of the National Alliance for People’s Movement, which has been agitating over the issue, welcomed the government’s decision. She, however, demanded the government should go ahead by taking action against all alleged irregularities in the project.