Slamming the Maharashtra government for favouring the developers of hill city Lavasa, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) stated that regulations were framed and amendments were made to existing laws for the sole purpose of pulling the project through. The report was tabled in the state legislature on Tuesday.
“The amendments, which diluted well-established government procedures, were made to ensure that 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 said.
The LCL, however, denied the findings. “Time and again, allegations have been levelled against Lavasa. These are based on misconceptions. Whilst we suspect lack of clarity and understanding of the facts, we also — at times — sense an element of malafide intent amongst some detractors,” a statement released by the corporation said.
The CAG has recommended undertaking a social cost benefit analysis of the Lavasa project. Stating that there was complete lack of transparency in selecting the project proponent, the report said that the Lavasa developers did not seek the government’s permission to buy tribal land.
Embarrassment for Pawar
The CAG’s observation is seen to have come as a major embarrassment for the project’s prime proponent, Sharad Pawar, who had been openly defending the project.
Pawar had taken on then union environment minister Jairam Ramesh for serving notices to Lavasa. While Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule, once held a stake in Lavasa, his close friend Ajit Gulabchand’s Hindustan Construction Company was the project promoter. Pawar was not available for comment.