Lavasa project under high court scanner
The Lavasa hill city near Pune is set to come under close judicial scrutiny with the Bombay high court on Tuesday saying it will examine various aspects of the project, including how displaced villagers were rehabilitated and public land was allotted and the impact on water supply to Pune.mumbai Updated: Dec 22, 2010 01:33 IST
The Lavasa hill city near Pune is set to come under close judicial scrutiny with the Bombay high court on Tuesday saying it will examine various aspects of the project, including how displaced villagers were rehabilitated and public land was allotted and the impact on water supply to Pune.
“We will have to examine various aspects of the project,” a division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi said after hearing arguments by Lavasa Corporation, a subsidiary of Hindustan Construction Company, challenging the show cause notice issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
When YP Singh, lawyer for a petitioner, alleged that huge tracts acquired for the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation were allotted for the Lavasa project without inviting tenders or bothering about the rules, the Bench said the state should have returned the land to the original owners.
Counsel for Lavasa, Shekhar Naphade, said his client had answers for every question. “We are victims of a vicious media campaign,” he said, offering even to face an inquiry commission.
Naphade denied that the project would affect water supply to Pune city. “It is a myth. Earlier all the water was being wasted.” Naphade alleged the MoEF action was malafide and intentionally coincided with the company’s Initial Public Offer.
Additional solicitor general Darius Khambatta argued that the delay by the MoEF in initiating action would not entitle Lavasa to continue “blatant violations”. Though Lavasa claimed to have a truckload of material, it refused to reply to the second show-cause notice issued by the Union ministry, he pointed out.
The government’s Environmental Impact Assessment Notification was applicable to the hill station project as it was nothing but a construction project, he added.
On December 14, the MoEF issued a second show-cause and stop-work notice for failing to obtain prior environmental clearance before starting construction.