Pawar meets CM to iron out Lavasa hurdles
Even as a metropolitan court is hearing a complaint against Lavasa Corporation over irregularities in its 2,000-acre hill city project coming up near Pune, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday held a meeting with Ajit Gulabchand, chairman of Lavasa’s parent company HCC, and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to look into issues dogging the Rs 50,000-crore venture.
It is learnt that Pawar had sought a meeting with Chavan on the controversial project, which has been stalled for more than a year over environmental clearance. Sources said that the state is considering revoking the special planning authority (SPA) status given to the project. As an SPA, Lavasa has sweeping powers on the lines of a civic body or an planning authority such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to grant clearances to development works and constructions in the hill city area.
This had proved to be controversial, with critics pointing to conflict of interest.
"The Centre had communicated to us that such wide-ranging powers are not desirable for private corporations, and other states don't have similar provisions. The Centre has asked us to reconsider it," said a senior official.
Sources said that this issue was discussed, but no decision was taken in the meeting.
The project is considered to be Pawar’s favourite, who has defended it saying that it was planned as the country had no hill stations developed after independence. Gulabchand is one of the accused in the case filed in the local court in Pune. The main charge against the company is that it constructed around 681 hectares without any green clearance. The Centre had asked the state to file a case against the company as a prerequisite to regularise the project.