Lavasa Corporation Limited, under fire for flouting environmental laws, has said that the final order of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is largely on the grounds of jurisdiction and does not address environment issues.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said the key point in the MoEF’s order was over jurisdiction issues between the state and the central government. The statement said the order had challenged the state’s authority in giving clearances in 2001 and 2004. It also challenged state government’s hill station policy of 1996 saying it should be reviewed, Lavasa’s statement said.
The company statement pointed out that the MoEF does not have “objective and measurable norms” and instead of restricting itself to environment, the ministry has resorted to questioning the state government’s jurisdiction, hill station policy, regional development plan and land purchase.
The company also referred to one of the recommendations made by the expert committee that visited the site earlier this month that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 has to be reviewed. The statement said that the MoEF accepted that the EIA is wrong and it needs to re-look critical aspects.
The committee had recommended that the EIA should include big projects such as hill station development under category ‘A’, making its scrutiny mandatory under the Centre instead of the state.
Lavasa’s statement said that the ministry did not give weightage to the data submitted by the company on environment protection and enhancement initiatives, including test reports from MoEF-approved labs. “The report seems to magnify minor environmental issues to justify continuance of the stop work order,” the statement said.
Lavasa said that more than 1,000 villagers supported Lavasa while merely a dozen supported activist Medha Patkar but the committee had given more space highlighting Patkar’s issues.
The company said that the report kept out photographs it submitted of more than 100km of roads in Lavasa completed with enhanced green cover.