‘Lavasa unauthorised; can be considered if conditions met’

Providing a ray of hope for Lavasa, Environment Ministry said it is prepared to consider the project being constructed on "merits" subject.

New Delhi: Environment Ministry on Tuesday held
that the construction at Lavasa near Pune was "unauthorised"
but gave a lifeline to it, saying the project would be
considered on "merits" if certain conditions are met.

The Ministry said no further construction should be
undertaken at the site and status quo should be maintained on
the project in accordance with the Ministry`s November 25,
2010 order prohibiting any work at the site.

At the same time, the Ministry, in an order, said it is
"prepared to consider the project on merits with the
imposition of various terms and conditions".

It expressed readiness to consider the project "taking
into account all the facts and circumstances of the case,
particularly the submissions made with regard to the
investments already incurred, third party rights which are
accrued, the various steps taken for establishment fo a
comprehensive hill station development, the employment
generated and the claimed upliftment of the area under

The terms and conditions included payment of "substantial
penalty" for the violation of environmental laws, which is

Besides the penalty, Lavasa Corporation Limited will have
to create Environmental Restoration Fund (ERF) with
"sufficiently large corpus" to be managed by an independent
body with various stakeholders under the overall supervision
of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the order said.

The Ministry also wants imposition of stringent terms and
conditions to ensure that no further environmental degradation
takes place and that any degradation that has already occurred
would be rectified within a time-bound schedule, it said.

The Lavasa would also have to formulate a comprehensive
Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) Report and Management
Plan for the project.

In its reaction, the Lavasa said a "quick review" of
order indicated that the Ministry`s decision was "more on
jurisdiction than on environment issues".

It contended that "no weightage or consideration" had
been given to the "huge body of data submitted" by the Lavasa
on environment protetion and enhancement initiatives.

The company suggested that a technical team of the
Ministry that inspected the site had misrepresented the "state
of affairs" by "amplifying minor faults and ignoring the
environmental work done" which was "bound to have a negative
bearing on the decision of the competent authority".

The Ministry`s team, headed by Naresh Dayal, undertook a
visit to the site from January 5 and said no large-scale
destruction of forest had taken place at the controversial