In a major setback to HCC’s ambitious hill city project, the Union environment ministry has asked the Maharashtra government to initiate action against Lavasa Corporation for violation of green norms. The notice came within hours of HCC’s statement that an environment ministry committee has recommended conditional clearances for the first phase of the project. By evening, the ministry stressed that part of the construction had been undertaken at the project site in Pune without obtaining a green nod.
The hill station township is being constructed by Lavasa Corporation, a subsidiary of HCC. The company has invested Rs 3,000 crores so far. But Lavasa has been caught up in the regulatory net for several months now. The company has incurred losses of about Rs 300 crores so far due to the stop-work notice issued by environment minister. The stop -work notice came late last year.
The Maharashtra government was quick to react to the Ministry of Environment and Forests' (MoEF) directive. According to the ministry, in an appraisal of request for green clearance for the development of the 2,000-hectare Hill Station Township it was found that constructions/developments in a 681 hectare area was in progress without obtaining prior environmental clearance. Noting that it had issued show cause notices on November 25 last year and final directions on January 17 this year, the constructions and developments in the 681- hectare are violations of the 1986 Act. As many as 257 residential units on 681.3 hectares were under construction where a stop-work order was imposed.