A group of social activists have moved the Bombay High Court, asking it to revoke all permissions granted to the controversy-hit Lavasa township project in Pune district.
The public interest litigation (PIL), filed more than a week ago, alleges that the project did not take the mandatory environmental clearance and is being built on more than 25,000 acres of fragile rainforest region in the Western Ghats.
The PIL is likely to come up for hearing on October 14.
The Union environment ministry recently asked the state to investigate the project following allegations that the project had violated environmental norms.
The petitioners — members of National Alliance of Peoples Movement, Nagari Hakka Sanrakshan Samiti, Prayas and Gomukh Environmental Trust for Sustainable Development — want the court to order the work to be stopped immediately.
“The construction of the mammoth Lavasa Hill Township in highly eco-sensitive tropical rainforests is going on without the mandatory environmental clearance statutorily required under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 1994,” the PIL said.
The notification has been issued under provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1989, which, according to the PIL, requires “prior environmental clearance from the Union environment and forest ministry even before preliminary work could be done”.
The state’s urban development department granted environmental clearance to the project on March 18, 2004. The petitioners allege that the state, however, had no authority to grant the clearance. “It is intriguing to note that there was no provision under the law which enabled the government of Maharashtra to issue such an environment clearance,” the PIL said.
“Clear-cut legal stipulations were disregarded and an environment clearance based on imaginary provisions was granted by the government of Maharashtra on unknown considerations.”
The state had on June 1, 2001 declared 18 villages in Pune district to be part of the hill station development under Lavasa Corporation. Lavasa’s spokesperson refused to comment.