Reacting sharply to social activist Anna Hazare’s letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Lavasa’s hill city project near Pune, Union Minister for Environment and Forests (MoEF) Jairam Ramesh has shot off a reply to him saying the project has not received the Ministry’s final approval yet.
Mr. Hazare urged Ms. Gandhi to issue directions to the MoEF to inquire into the infractions of law by Lavasa. Alleging that political pressure was preventing the government from acting against Lavasa, Mr. Hazare criticised the Ministry’s handling of the environmental violations.
He said the MoE was set to approve the project based on an office memorandum issued on November 16, 2010.
Refuting Mr. Hazare’s claims, Mr. Ramesh in a communication dated July 8 said: “I would like to highlight a few facts that may have escaped your attention. The MoEF has not given a nod to Lavasa through an Office Memorandum. Lavasa has not got the formal and final environmental clearances yet.”
The Ministry had written to Lavasa laying down “five pre-conditions to be fulfilled before the final environment clearance can be considered…” the letter states.
Mr. Ramesh said the Ministry’s measure had been communicated to the Maharashtra government. “Action by State government is also a pre-condition before the final environmental clearance can be considered.”
On Mr. Hazare’s allegation of double standards towards Lavasa, vis-à-vis the demolition notice to the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, Mr. Ramesh said, “The Adarsh and Lavasa are not comparable at all. Therefore, there is no question of double standards.
“The Adarsh is a Coastal Regulation Zone violation case. The CRZ clearance is for a specific site. The Lavasa is an environmental violation case.” Hindu