Social activist Anna Hazare, in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has said that political pressure is compelling the Central and Maharashtra governments to go soft on the “irregularities” and “violations” in Lavasa’s hill city project near Pune. Seeking her urgent intervention, he has called for directions to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the State to inquire into the “illegalities” and “corrupt” transactions related to the project.
“Following the people’s andolan against Lavasa, many inquiries were conducted and much of the accusations of the protesters were proved to be true. However, bowing to political pressure, the Centre and the State are purposefully avoiding acting upon the information that has emerged from the inquiries. They are thus encouraging undemocratic and corrupt practices. Lavasa is an example of arbitrary and irresponsible exploitation of law, corruption, and political pressures that are aspects of the many scams in the country,” Mr. Hazare wrote in a letter dated June 27.
He demanded a “high-level” investigation into alleged irregularities by way of decision of the Special Planning Authority, which was set up to further the interests of Lavasa. He also criticised the role of the MoEF in dealing with the issue of environmental violations. He requested Ms. Gandhi to issue directions to the Ministry to initiate a judicial probe in the matter.
“While the Ministry approves of demolishing the unauthorised Adarsh building under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1986, [it] approves of Lavasa under the same Act. What kind of a law is this,” he asked. Hitting out at his critics, he said: “When we spoke of the Lokpal, we are asked if we wanted to insult the Constitution. However, the MoEF gave a nod to Lavasa through an office memorandum. Is the memorandum above the Act? Should we then assume that the United Progressive Alliance does not accord as much importance to upholding the Constitution as it does to political pressure and guarding the financial interests of private companies?”
Stating that Maharashtra had erred in appointing the Special Planning Authority, he said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had taken no decision on the call for revoking special rights given to Lavasa. He said there was a need to speed up the process to allotting adivasi lands held by Lavasa to the adivasis, which the State’s Revenue Department had assured. Hindu