Environment ministry puts Lavasa Lake City on hold


New Delhi : The environment ministry has issued a show cause notice to Lavasa Corporation Limited for violating environmental laws, putting a stop to any further construction on its Lake City project near Pune, officials said Friday.

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Asking the company, a unit of Hindustan Construction Company, to reply within 15 days, the ministry asked why the unauthorised structures erected without any environment clearance should not immediately be demolished.

“Pending a decision on the show cause notice, the status quo on construction or development as on date should be maintained,” the ministry notice said.

The lake city project, spread across 25,000 acres, is situated around 190 km from Mumbai and some 65 km from Pune.

The environment ministry in September asked the Maharashtra government to provide all the details and facts related to the project.

According to the ministry, the project got a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the state environment department in 2002 to develop the hill station in Mulshi and Velhe tehsils of Pune.

The NOC was converted into final environmental clearance in 2004 and the clearance was limited to an area of 2,000 hectares as permitted by the urban development department.

“The environment clearance allowed the height of the Lake City project to be in the range of 640 metres to 900 metres. The construction has been made above 1,000 metres and as per the Pune district collector’s report, 47.30 hectare of land area is above 1000 metres,” it said.

The project proponent had incurred an expenditure of Rs.115.20 crore out of total project cost of Rs.2,153 crore, which amounts to about 5.53 percent of the total cost, and for this clearance has to be sought from the environment ministry, it added.

The ministry has asked the company to submit details of the project, clearances obtained, status of the project with photographs/satellite maps indicating the construction.

Lavasa Friday gave advertisement in major national dailies about a report published in the Sunday Times, London, alleging irregularities by the company.

The advertisement said: “The newspaper apologised for the distress caused and has agreed to pay a settlement of over $47,000 to the company toward legal costs”.

The company said that it is building the hill town ty with a high degree of transparency and with the regulatory framework of the country.