New Delhi: Maharashtra Government has
found "some irregularities" in Lavasa, the country`s first
planned hill city project, and would take action if its probe
proved any wrongdoing, a senior state minister said today.
"Some irregularities are there," Revenue Minister
Narayan Rane told reporters in the presence of Chief Minister
Ashok Chavan and indicated that the probe report would be
ready within a fortnight.
He said that a key issue in question was the handover
of 141 hectares of land to the private project by the state
irrigation department and whether the department has the
authority to do so.
Another issue was to find out whether any permission
had been taken from the government or the district collector
while acquiring the land of tribals.
"If there is any wrongdoing, action will be taken,"
Rane, a former Chief Minister, said.
Reports recently also said that the project being
built on 10,000 hectares of land in Pune district has come
under the scanner of the Union Ministry for Environment and
Forests on the issue of environmental clearances.
The city is coming up in the Western Ghats on the
hillocks surrounding the Warasgaon reservoir. It is to have,
among other things, villas, luxury apartments and hotels.
The project`s initial promoters included Sharad
Pawar`s daughter Supriya Sule and her husband Sadanand Sule,
who withdrew from the project in 2004.
It also included Aniruddha Deshpande, a builder close
to Pawar who also later sold his stake. "Lavasa Corporation
has complied with all the environmental norms, which have been
closely monitored by the responsible authorities," a
spokesperson for Lavasa Corporation said.
The project has been dogged by controversy ever since
it was launched in 2002. Critics, including local farmers and
activists say it will cause large-scale ecological damage and
have questioned the speed at which the state government
cleared the project.