Lavasa initiated at the behest of Maha govt: Gulabchand

Faced with the imminent criminal proceedings by the Maharashtra government, Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman Lavasa Corp, said that his company was being discriminated against by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Reiterating that the company has not indulged in any environmental violations, Gulabchand said injustice is being meted out to his company, adding that the project was done at the behest of the state government.

 Lavasa initiated at the behest of Maha govt: Gulabchand

Ajit Gulabchand. Screengrab/ibnlive

He said the Maharashtra government appraised the project environmentally and then gave clearances. Even the expert committee set up by the MoEF gave clearances, which were accepted by the environment ministry.

The MoEF subsequently set out the preconditions needed to be fulfilled and these preconditions have been put only on Lavasa, Gulabchand said.

"Why are we being singled out in the treatment?," he asked.

"We have not violated any law..and they themselves have accepted proposals of the expert committee...it's only the preconditions that are creating the problems," he said.

Putting the blame squarely with the MoEF, Gulabchand said the state government is only acting as an agent of the MoEF.

"I need to know why the Ministry of Environment is behaving the way it is," he rued.

India needs to build 500 new cities, Gulabchand said, adding that the government's policy inaction is not allowing these developments.

"India is suffering from this arbitrariness which some of the ministers are indulging in ..they should be asked what standards they follow," he added.

Meanwhile, bureaucrats who were part of the clearance could be in trouble, reports CNN IBN. The government is said to be actively considering legal proceedings against bureaucrats along with Lavasa's top brass.

The Prithviraj Chavan government will initiate criminal proceedings against Lavasa Corporation Ltd in a Pune court tomorrow, according to CNNIBN.

Work was suspended in Lavasa in Novemeber 2009 after the township was found to be flouting envrionmental norms.

Criminal proceedings likely to be initiated under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act 1986 says:

1) Whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, or the rules made or orders or directions issued there under, shall, in respect of each such failure or contravention, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both, and in case the failure or contravention continues, with additional fine which may extend to five thousand rupees for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention.

(2) If the failure or contravention referred to in sub-section (1) continues beyond a period of one year after the date of conviction, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 04:57:35 IST