Rejecting a plea by Lavasa Corporation Ltd, the Bombay high court, on Wednesday, refused to stay the December 14 order by the Union ministry of environment and forests directing it to maintain status quo at the hill city project in Pune district. “We do not accept that the order breaches principles of natural justice,” said the division bench of justice BH Marlaplle and justice UD Salvi.
Senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade, arguing for Lavasa, sought interim orders allowing it to complete pending construction work on the 12,500-hectare project. “The work has been going on for five years and there is no perceptible damage to the environment. Should the work of five years go down the drain?,” Naphade asked.
Additional solicitor general Darius Khambatta maintained that the project lacked a very basic pre-condition – environmental clearance.
Khambatta informed the court that the Central Environmental Impact Assessment Committee would visit Lavasa Hill City before passing a final order on January 10. Lavasa, in a statement on Wednesday, termed this a welcome development. “The high court order also allows us to appeal against the final MoEF order in January,” the statement said.