The clearance given by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to the Rs2,000-crore hill station project spread over 5,914 acres in Pune’s Muslhi taluka has sparked speculation on whether political pressure was brought to bear upon him for the go-ahead.
Chavan, who took over in the aftermath of the Adarsh scam, and has been cautious in granting clearances to construction projects, notified seven villages in the Sahyadri region as a hill station on May 19, barely two months after the state green panel observed the area to be highly eco-sensitive.
“Either Chavan was convinced this project was above par, or there was political compulsion for him to clear the notification. It is difficult to believe he would want to clear a project of this scale, given the Lavasa controversy and the pending issue of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel’s report. He deliberates for long even on bureaucratic transfers,” said a senior minister requesting anonymity.
A senior bureaucrat added, “The clearance came after Chavan returned from Delhi, giving rise to this speculation.”
The project developer, Maharashtra Valley View Private Limited (MVVPL), has refuted allegations of political support. “We have no political patronage. Why do you think it has taken us six years to reach this stage? And it will probably take another two years, given the 20 conditions we have to meet, before we can start the project,” said Hitesh Parikh, executive director of MVVPL.
Parikh said the project is being funded by MVVPL’s parent group Bilakhia Holdings, a multi-crore, first-generation business group based in Vapi. HT had reported in its June 13 edition that MVVPL is associated with the group.
Set up in 1986, the group has interests in inks, agrochemicals, healthcare and education, and is run by three brothers — Yunus, Anjum and Zakir Bilakhia.
Parikh denied any other group or company’s involvement in the project. “We do not have any other stakeholders or business partners, or have anyone else’s money invested in this project. We have not even tied up with any financing firm. Our company, Micro Inks, had a turnover of Rs2,000 crore last year,” he said.
Parikh said MVVPL’s dealings with locals have also been scrupulous, and that they have been paid the entire sum through cheques.
This is the company’s first real-estate venture. It has acquired more than 50% of the land — 1,200 hectare — for the project
Allows developer to bypass laws like the ceiling on owning agriculture land, and easy conversion of agriculture, no-development land and tribal land
If a developer can buy 1,000 acres of land, he can get it notified as a hill station by the govt
Once cleared, the project gets legitimacy and there is no state scrutiny on issues like environment, sustainable development
Instead of piecemeal development with no checks and balances, the law allows planned development
Providing basic amenities, sewerage, water supply, power is the developer’s responsibility. This leads to minimal damage to ecology
No government interference in acquiring land
“We have no political patronage. Why do you think it has taken us six years to reach this stage? And it will probably take another two years, given the 20 conditions we have to meet, before we can start the project.” - Hitesh Parikh, executive director, Maharashtra Valley View Private Limited.
HT had on Tuesday reported about the clearance given to the `2000-cr new hill city project in Mulshi taluka of Pune district, close to where Lavasa is situated.