Experts' panel recommends conditional approval for Lavasa

Experts' panel recommends conditional approval for Lavasa

"We welcome the recommendation of the Expert Appraisal Committee. The committee has recommended clearances for Lavasa's first phase of 2,000 hectares-hill town project with some conditions," HCC's Chairman and Managing Director, Ajit Gulabchand, told shareholders at its annual general meeting here today.

Subject to the pendency of some issues of Lavasa Corporation Ltd before the Bombay High Court, the committee recommends the proposal for environmental clearance for the first phase of 2,000 hectares with conditions, the panel said. The report has been posted online.

The infrastructure major needs to allocate at least 5 per cent of the project's total cost for community development projects and a time-bound action plan will have to be prepared and submitted to the Ministry's Regional Office at Bhopal, it said.

"We have lost Rs 2 crore a day since the work stopped and around 1,5000 workers have lost their jobs. The Ministry should take a decision soon, keeping the committee recommendations in mind," Gulabchand said.

The panel said a high-level verification and monitoring committee (VMC) shall be constituted with inclusion of eminent experts, representatives of MoEF and District Administration. The committee shall examine, verify and monitor at various stages (planning, construction, operation and maintenance) of the project the compliance of the conditions.

In December last year, the Environment Ministry had ordered status quo to be maintained at the site by terming it "unauthorised" and observed that Lavasa Corporation, the site developer and a subsidiary of HCC, had violated the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notifications.

Lavasa Corporation challenged this order in the Bombay High Court and the matter is now pending before it. In February, the company had also applied for grant of environment clearance for the first phase of the project. Before that, in January this year, the Environment Ministry said it was ready to consider the project on "merits", subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.

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