With 25,000 acres of land developed, Rs 3,000 crore invested, an idea conceived by Sharad Pawar and the latest blow by Jairam Ramesh, Lavasa is becoming the next big environmental issue.
By Nikhil M Ghanekar
- Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh kicked up another storm when he dashed off a show cause notice to Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL), the company behind the Lavasa hill city project, on 25 November. LCL replied to the notice on 29 November criticizing the ministry for acting out of turn and playing to the whims of political activists such as Medha Patkar and Anna Hazare. The following is a lowdown on the history and turn of events of the Lavasa project:
- The township is spread across 25,000 acres near Vasargoan dam in Pune district and is located about 220 km away from Mumbai.
- The township will have houses, villas, restaurants, schools, colleges, hospitals, sports academies, hotels and theme parks.
- The project will be completed in four phases by 2021. The first phase in Dasve is already over.
- Ajit Gulabchand of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) is heading the construction and Hincon Techno Consultants are the primary engineering consultants.
- The project has been built on land acquired by the Maharashtra government in 1971 for the construction of the Vasargoan dam.
- Activists are against the project because it is being built on land given up in national interest and not for commercial purposes.
- LCL, a subsidiary of HCC, holds 64.99 percent stake. The other stakeholders are Avantha Group (16.25), Venkateshwara Hatcheries (12.79) and Vinay Maniar (5.95).
- It is speculated that Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya and son-in-law Sadanand Sule offloaded their stake in 2004.
- The current controversy revolves around the environment ministry’s show cause notice, which pulls up LCL for violating provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification.
- The notice states that the LCL did not seek the Centre’s clearance for building on 47.39 hectares of land out of 2,000 hectares in Dasve, 1,000 metres below sea level, which is in gross violation of the 1994 notification
- LCL refutes the claim that the construction is illegal and has pointed to Sahara’s Amby Valley project built on the same lines in Lonavla.